Quilt National 2019

My piece, Disruption, will debut at Quilt National tomorrow in Athens, OH. The Dairy Barn is a treasured space for art quilts and art quilters. I have met some inspiring folks there, seen some inspiring works. I wish I could be there this weekend during the opening festivities. It would be great to get to meet some of the first time artists and catch up with the artists I have met before.

Meanwhile my work will speak for itself. It’s a little raucous. A lot anxious. Ragged on one side and dark on the other. Not sure if the folks at QN will hang the piece away from the wall so that you can see it from both sides. If not, and you are there, ask them to show you the dark side. It’s full of stitch.

The piece is made with a quilt top I pieced then printed with a steamroller. — yes, the same machine they use to flatten roadways. I was given a 4’x8’ wood panel to carve. It was inked, placed on the road and covered in fabric, paper, a felt blanket and wood panels then rolled over with the steamroller. More about that process here and here.

My best to all the artists who will be celebrating this weekend in Athens. I’ll have to wait to see the show some other time.

Disruption, 90” x 40”, 2018, Paula Kovarik

Disruption, the dark side, 90” x 40”, 2018, Paula Kovarik

Quilt National reveal

One thing about the Quilt National show in Athens, Ohio: the artists have to have a lot of patience. Understand that we actually made the pieces sometime between October 2013 and October 2014. Then, after submission to the show, there is that long wait for the email that says you have been chosen as part of the exhibit, or, you have not.

As an accepted artist, you send in your quilt for final acceptance and photography in December.  Then, the longest 6 months in history starts its plodding way. From December to May you hold your breath and try not to say anything to anyone about the piece.

Getting ready to tell the story of my piece, Insomnia: His and Hers at the Quilt National opening. Gathered round me are some of the luminaries in the art quilt world. What could be better than this?

Getting ready to tell the story of my piece, Insomnia: His and Hers at the Quilt National opening. Gathered round me are some of the luminaries in the art quilt world. What could be better than this?

Finally the show comes around and the Dairy Barn hosts the artists and their friends and fans to see the results of the careful choices. I attended the show this weekend and had a great time talking with and meeting the artists, enjoying discussions about the pieces and their relevance to the art form, studying details and colorways, and standing awestruck before many of the accepted pieces. The show was beautiful, varied and thought-provoking.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is when the artists have the opportunity to talk about their piece for 2 minutes. It is a delightful gathering of fans, friends and luminaries. Betty Busby sent me this photo of me doing my talk during that session. I'm not sure what I said. I think the Dairy Barn is going to post the results of these short clips on You Tube so I will be able to figure out if I made a fool of myself or not.

So here is the reveal of the piece that was accepted to the show. Insomnia: His and Hers were conceived during a period of transition in my life. I had lost my mom, passed my business on to my friend Shannon and set up shop in my studio. I redefined reality for a while -- felt like a rabbit without a hole and couldn't sleep very well. The piece tries to channel that urgency, insecurity and subconscious into a landscape of conscious thought. It is a diptych made with two pillow shams that were given to me by a friend. The quilting is free-motion stitching with my Bernina machine. The two shams have a built up pillow forms behind them that mimic actual pillows.

Insomnia: His and Hers, ©2014 Paula Kovarik

Insomnia: Hers, ©2014 Paula Kovarik

Calming the static prior to sleep can be a journey into the unknown escorted by the imagined and replayed.

Insomnia: His, ©2014 Paula Kovarik


Happy to announce that my piece Insomnia: His and Hers, has been accepted into Quilt National 2015. Can't post a photo of the finished pieces due to the rules of the show. The piece is made with two vintage pillow shams. It is the same piece that was rejected by Quilt Visions. Goes to show that it all depends on the judges.

Other news: I am proud of my two grandsons, who allowed me to use their incredible drawings to create a piece called Face Value. It recently won second place in the Wall Quilts - Other category at the LaConner Quilt Festival.

Face Value, detail, work-in-progress, Paula Kovarik

Face Value, detail, work-in-progress, Paula Kovarik

A new website debuts

In May of this year I attended the Quilt National 2013 show. It was my third trip to the Dairy Barn. The nice thing about going to the opening of the show is meeting the artists. Many attend. And they are a chattering bunch of creatives — passionate about the art, warm and welcoming to others with the same passion and supportive of each other's journey with this art form. I always leave the show with the feeling that I have just met 80 new friends.

So I proposed that we begin a collaborative website where we could profile the artists and show off this work. It will be a community gallery and news space. Many were enthusiastic. Leslie Bixel stepped up to help with her expertise with setting up websites. And now I can announce that the site is launched. QuiltNationalArtists.com is in its infancy. I see a great deal of potential in the site and hope that the collaboration grows so that those 80 new friends become thousands. 

Our stated mission is: Quilt National Artists is a collaborative site dedicated to spreading the news about art quilts and fiber art. Each artist who participates on this site has been chosen to show in the prestigious biennial Quilt National exhibition.

Clcik on the image above and check it out.

The St. Louis journey

St. Louis University Art Museum with the Quilt National banner

Just returned from seeing the Quilt National 2013 opening at the St. Louis University art gallery. The imposing structure on Lindell Blvd. looked like a museum which had the effect of adding a sense of importance to our art. The opening was well attended by the sponsors from 4-6 pm and they got most of the tidbits upstairs at the wine bar. Once the public was allowed in at 6, the sponsors seemed to disappear. I'd be interested in their take on the show since it revolves around raising funds for the Safe Connections shelter for women and teenagers. Their efforts to include the show over the years has been successful. There will be more news about this posted to the Quilt National artists website in the future.

My quilt, Round and Round It GoesNormally I hate openings. It is very difficult for me to be in public speeking about my artwork. I have always threatened to install a web cam where I can see how it went from a safe distance. This time however I had a good friend with me who bolstered my confidence and encouraged me to participate. I met several people who applauded my work and posed challenging questions about it.

A bonus of seeing the exhibition was that there was a second floor gallery with some surprising pieces by Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, Richard Serra, Robert Motherwell and Andy Warhol. Imagine that, art quilts in a main gallery of a collection like that. In addition they had a Speaking of Fibers 2013 exhibition of works from Missouri artists which had some compelling statement pieces within it. .

Main room of the gallery with reception chairs for the donors.

The central section of the galleryI did have some reservations about the show. The quilts seemed very crowded on the walls. Some were stacked (as on the wall on which my quilt was hanging) and some were hanging from the ceiling that allowed people to see the back of the piece (probably not intended by the artist in some cases.) Diane Firth's wonderful translucent piece, Storm was hanging on a gray wall that didn't help the viewer see the dimension this quilt can have with good lighting. The curator of the exhibit said she did not receive any instructions for hanging the art from the QN administration which affected my piece significantly. There was a droop at the top of it where the piece was supposed to be a convex curve. They were using round poles for hanging and the bulge was apparent in most cases. I think we might want to think about new ways of communicating to curators when the show is sent to other galleries.

All in all, though, I was happy to attend the opening and met some folks who were enthusiastic about the art form. I very rarely got that annoying question or statement about grandma (though most people still ask how long it took to make it). If you are anywhere near St. Louis make a point of stopping in. I think it is free to the public. (and just blocks away is some of the best Italian food I have tasted in a long time with hard to resist Italian bakeries nearby to take some calories home...mm mm good)