Quilt. This is a word that corresponds to imagery of tattered patch blankets at my grandmother’s house. When I think of quilts, I remember falling asleep at my grandma’s house, curled up under an old quilt that’s not nearly thick enough to keep me warm, but doesn’t have to because her house exudes its own warmth, while my sister plays the piano.

So, I went to the “Quilts for a New Millennium” exhibit, featuring the work of internationally known and award-winning quilt artist Carol Tyler in the Hartnett Gallery, with something of a tainted, negative outlook – why was it necessary to hang raggedy blankets on the walls of a gallery?

However, upon stepping into Hartnett, I was pleasantly surprised. The room felt cozy, and it was because of the brilliant, warm colors emanating from the quilts on the walls. I felt as if I had stepped out of Wilson Commons and into a stage set for a production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” – the colors of these quilts were so rich that it was almost overwhelming.

Senior Neil Pawlowski had a similar aversion to the exhibit before seeing it.

“I am not an art person, and I didn’t know what I was supposed to think about quilts,” Pawlowski said. “However, I went in there and just thought the gallery and all of the quilts looked pretty cool.”

In the contemporary art world, there is often debate over what constitutes art. If something has functionality, does that make it art, or, similarly, if something is functional and does not exist for pure aesthetic pleasure, does that mean that it is not art? This is a subject that has sparked many debates and will continue to do so, but I think even the toughest art critics could agree that while quilts could hypothetically serve a functional purpose of covering or providing warmth, each one is still very beautiful and also lends the viewer aesthetic pleasure.

Each of the 31 quilts on display somehow manages to be very distinct. Some of the quilts are finished with a circular stitching pattern, while some have more of a linear dominance. While many have bright, attention-grabbing colors, others contain more muted, pastel colors.

One element that is common among all of the quilts is the incredible detail put into the stitching and fabric pieces.

Junior Evan Schoeberlin visited Hartnett for the first time to see this exhibit and was attracted to the details embedded in the quilts, especially in the Confetti Series.

“I like the fact that these [quilts are made] out of tiny scraps of fabric – and they’re huge,” Schoeberlin said.

One criticism of the show is that one gallery wall is covered in quilts of similar brown and tan hues – all lacking the brilliant colors of the rest of the quilts. Personally, I would have liked to see them mixed in with the brighter quilts, to detract from their simplicity of color. However, the intricate designs on these “duller” quilts are so fantastic with

See QUILTS, Page 18 incredible detail and small cut-outs sewn on, that the color is less of a factor up close than it may seem from farther away.

Unlike many shows that go up in the Hartnett Gallery, “Quilts for a New Millennium” makes full use of all of the gallery space. While it is normal for much of the wall space to remain empty in typical exhibits, curator Janet Berlo does an excellent job of hanging the show, squeezing in as many quilts as possible without letting the gallery seem cluttered.

While sitting in the gallery and collecting my thoughts on the exhibit, I heard someone outside the door say, “it looks so colorful in there!” Junior Rachel Wiener entered the gallery and was speechless, except for the repeated exclamation, “Oh my gosh I want one!” You, too, will have this magnetism towards these beautiful quilts, so make sure to visit the Hartnett.

Most people who have visited the gallery have admitted that their perception of quilts has been transformed by viewing these quilts, and even if it doesn’t, the colors are great and it’s a calming environment to step into after finishing a paper or a grueling exam. “Quilts for a New Millenium” will be up in the Hartnett Gallery in Wilson Commons until March 25th. The gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 11a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 6 p.m.

Woolfson can be reached at bwoolfson@campustimes.org.

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