Thursday, December 12, 2013

Art Deco Thirty Years Ago

 Françoise Barnes, Art Deco, 1980
Collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum

Barnes's quilt reflects the enthusiasm of young artists introduced to Art Deco by Bevis Hiller's retrospective look at modern design in the late 1960s.

Art Deco seemed a natural for quilt design.

The first quilt I ever designed for Quilters Newsletter in the late '70s had blocks combining traditional patchwork and images from the art deco restaurant dishes I was collecting at the time.
Editor Bonnie Leman rejected the design (similar to the one above) and wrote me she would prefer articles with more traditional ideas.

Other artists saw the same links and the same divide between traditional quilts and art quilts. Francoise Barnes, Nancy Crow, Virginia Randles and friends who lived in Athens, Ohio got tired of  rejection slips and created a venue to show quilts taking off in new directions. The first Quilt National was held in 1979 at the Dairy Barn in Athens.

Nancy Crow
February Study

Many quilts in that innovative first exhibit surprised us with their geometries.

Michael James
Dawn Nebula

Maria McCormick Snyder
Log Cabin Variation

The three quilts above were in that first Quilt National. The show continued to attract work
based on the affinity between patchwork and historical modernism.

 Françoise Barnes
Zaire Songe Mask II, 1989

Many of the artists involved in the first Quilt National continued to explore the arcs and lines of Art Deco. 

Nancy Crow 
Our Lady of Guadalupe, 1985
See more of Crow's work here:

Michael James, Unnamed, 1986
See more of Michael James's quilts here

Jane Sassaman, Waves, 1981-1986

See more of Sassaman's work here:

Pauline Burbidge, Spiral 1, 1985

See more of Burbidge's work here:

And see more about Quilt National 1979

Jane Sassaman, Heaven and Earth, 1993


  1. Just awesome ,anyone is spectacular!

  2. Quite a trip down memory lane; I was thrilled by that first Quilt National even though I didn't know I was looking at Art Deco. I'm enjoying the others that I'd not seen before and will be checking out all the links. Thank you so much for all your research.