Sunday, April 07, 2013

Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits

I was sent a copy of this book to review, which I am happy to do! The publisher is Lark, who publish the most beautiful, elegantly designed art books around, in my opinion.

I have been looking forward to seeing this book. The previous book in this series Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World, also by Martha Sielman, was a beauty as well and continues to inspire me. I saw the call for submissions for the People and Portraits book and had intentions to submit some work myself, but it somehow got away from me and I didn't submit. The whole topic of faces in art quilts has long intrigued me and I have definite opinions about how well, or not, our medium is suited to portraying the human face. Over the years I have seen, for me, too many badly rendered faces in cloth—attempts at realism that fell short; computer generated "posterized" images; goofy Picasso-esque monstrosities. Sad to say there are a few of such works included in this book, but really very few. The book, to my delight, is filled with fresh, original takes on the human form and portraiture in cloth. Some were from favorite artists and some from artists entirely new to me. Hurrah!

Danish artist, Bodil Gardner is a favorite. I have been aware of her work for several years and then saw several pieces at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last year. I am a huge fan of her style and her clear, beautiful color sense. She is one of the featured artists in the book, so you get to see a nice selection of her work and read about her background, her thoughts and process.

Another featured artist, Margene Gloria May, is new to me, but her images engaged me at first sight! They are strong and confident and beautiful, and captivated me with their ingenious use of patterned fabrics. I went, immediately to the web to look for more images, in vain. Fortunately there are seven of her gorgeous pieces shown in the book and reading about how she approaches her work is inspiring.

Another discovery for me was the art of Yoshiko Kurihara, also featured in the book.  Her work has a very original, illustrative quality—charming and whimsical without being overly "cute."

These are but three of twenty one featured artists, including more of my favorites: Kathy Nida, Colette Berends, Lori Lupe Pelish, Mary Pal and more.  Each has found distinctive and creative ways to interpret the human face and form through fiber and fabric. In addition to the featured artist segments, there are galleries of individual works throughout the book. I know I will return to this book over and over.

They say the human face is the most compelling of all images and this collection will present you with unforgettable portraits and stories to inspire, whether from well-known, established quilt artists, or someone you've never encountered before.


  1. Thanks for the review, Terry. I have purchased the book and will take it on my upcoming journey to enjoy in spare moments. Interesting that your favorites are also my favorites - Pal, Nida, Pelish, Gardner and more! Love, Del

  2. Thanks for the review. I'm pleased to hear that the majority of work in the book is high quality. Of course, I'd expect no less from Martha as editor. What is really exciting is that she's found artists outside the usual quilt show arena. Margene Gloria May is a new name to me too, but I'm loving what you have shown. I'm happy to hear that this series of books continues to be inspirational. Based on your review, I think I need to invest in them as well. :-)