04 August 2017

Circular Abstractions: Bulls-Eye Quilts at the Fuller Craft Museum

Sue Ritter Milling, Ole.

The Fuller Craft Museum, in Brockton, Massachusetts, hosted an exhibit of 25 quilts, selected from a larger show curated by Nancy Crow.  An invitational show, Ms. Crow asked over 40 of her students and colleagues to consider the Bull's Eye quilt; the exhibit is on display from May 13, 2017, through October 22, 2017. 

Ms. Crow interprets this traditional design very broadly, as a four-quadrant composition featuring circular motifs.  The exhibit is something like a workshop pin-up; many of the quilts selected for the Fuller show are similar in design and color.  Some of the more interesting works move beyond the restrictions of a four-block design, which, despite the circular motion inherent in the curved piecing, can end up being rather static.

Exhibit entrance.

Kerri Green, Sunshine.

In her quilt Sunshine, Ms. Green electrifies the "four quadrant" stricture by introducing incomplete circles and playing with figure-ground relationship; the jagged-edge black diamonds vibrate between the circle segments.

Sunshine, detail.

Susan K. Willen, Off-Target.

Ms. Willen uses hand-dyed, as well as commercially dyed fabrics, in Off-Target, adding texture and interest to her work. Few, if any, of the quilts used commercial prints; for some reason many folks in the "art quilt" movement use solid or hand-dyed fabrics exclusively.

Valerie Maser-Flanagan, Growth Rings #1.

A limited color palette - basically orange, blue, brown - wisely deployed in a sequence of gradient values gives Ms. Flanagan's tight composition a lot of impact.  The quilt below, Twister by Marina Baudoin, introduces a fifth block imposed on the quadrant. The black and off-white slashes do, indeed, twist, and even shout.

Marina Baudoin, Twister.

Catherine Beard, The New Whirled.

The colors in the quilts above and below are quite different but both quilts rely on high contrast: black, white and red in The New Whirled and charcoal gray and muted tones in Discharging the Bull.  Ms. Costley hand-dyed over 100 fabrics then selectively removed dyed from many of them, a process known as discharge, for use in this quilt.

Cheryl Costley, Discharging the Bull.

In the gallery.

Gael O'Donnell, Fallen.

Circles are stretched into ovals, and offset, in the quilt above.  The piecing pattern of thin vertical segments through the oval centers makes an effective design celebrating two hues, purple and orange.  The bull's-eye motif becomes even more vestigial in the quilt below which, with typography and color, suggests a narrative without being too literal.

Carol Hazen, Danger - Wrong Way.

Finally, the bull's-eyes become atomized - reduced to miniature size - and grouped in arcs of color in Outrageous Cells, a study in the effect of disruption on pattern.

Nancy Cordy, Outrageous Cells.

Outrageous Cells, detail.

All of the quilts can be seen in the catalog, ISBN 9780985297251.