When I was living in the North Carolina mountains, and my quilting friends and I were in need of a little “uptown infusion,” we hopped in the car for the scenic, 90-mile journey to Asheville. Although small by some reckoning (population approximately 85,000), this historic and architecturally rich little city, nestled in the lovely French Broad River valley, is also amazingly artist friendly, abounding in galleries, studios, and other inspiring destinations.
The Biltmore Estate: A must-see on any Asheville tour. Photo courtesy of The Biltmore Company.
As a result of this welcoming atmosphere, the Asheville area is home to a large community of working artists, many of whom choose fiber as their medium. Among them are the members of PTA (Professional Textile Artists), an invitational fiber-arts group that meets monthly for critique, support, inspiration, and camaraderie. You’ll probably recognize some of the names: Mary Berry, Georgia Bonesteel, Connie Brown, Linda Cantrell, Gen Grundy, Lynne Harrill, Dort Lee, Janice Maddox, Cathy Nieman, Judy Simmons, Mary Stori, Barbara Swinea, Leigh Anne Tierney, and Kate Weston.
The fabulous members of PTA. Look closely for Connie; she's off to the right, waving at you!
In addition to their monthly meetings, the members of PTA slip away once a year for a much-anticipated three-day retreat in the North Carolina Mountains. The latest retreat was at lovely Lake Logan. Photo courtesy of Mary Stori.
The group first came together about 20 years ago, and has evolved naturally in membership and purpose. The monthly meetings follow no particular agenda, although Show and Tell is a staple, and ideas and opinions flow freely. When asked to describe the group in three words, member Barbara Swinea–without hesitation–volunteered “talkative, adventurous, and prolific.”
Prolific, indeed. Besides producing their individual work, the members of PTA have adopted the “sort-of-annual” group challenge as a vehicle to spur motivation and inspire creativity. Past challenges have included Piping, Fiber-glass, and Sunrise/Sunset (which took third place in the Group Challenge category at the 2011 AQS Show in Knoxville.)
Sunrise Silhouette by Barbara Swinea, part of PTA's AQS-award-winning group challenge, Sunrise, Sunset. Photo courtesy of Judy Simmons.
Their most recent challenge, titled Inspired By, made a highly successful debut at the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA. For this challenge, each quilt artist created a wall quilt inspired by the work of a two-dimensional, non-quilt artist. The finished piece could be either vertical or horizontal in orientation and measure approximately 24″ x 30″.
So, inspired by the work of Paul Klee…
…Janice Maddox created Tis the Gift.
Tis the Gift, 26" x 31", made by Janice Maddox
Inspired by the work of Pablo Picasso…
…Linda Cantrell created Discordant.
Discordant, 24" x 31", made by Linda Cantrell
Inspired by the work of Sewell Sillman…
…Lynne Harrill created Contours.
Contours, 20" x 33 1/2", made by Lynne Harrill
Inspired by the work of Wassilly Kandinsky…
…Cathy Nieman created Sunnyside Up.
Sunnyside Up, 30" x 24", made by Cathy Nieman
Inspired by the work of Martin Johnson Heade…
…Judy Simmons created Hummingbird Magic.
Hummingbird Magic, 30" x 24", made by Judy Simmons
Inspired by the work of Bansky…
…Mary Stori created Wash Day.
Wash Day, 30" x 24", made by Mary Stori
Fabulous, aren’t they? You can see more of this fantastic exhibit by visiting Windy Hill Happenings, Judy Simmons’s delightful blog; in the future, keep your eyes open for future exhibits by this talented group. Oh…and if you find yourself in the Asheville area, be sure to stop by the Folk Art Center, located at milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Folk Art Center features the work of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, a juried collective of 900+ artisans from the Appalachian Mountain regions of nine Southeastern states that includes some members of the PTA.
The shop at The Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, home base for the Southern Highland Craft Guild
That’s it for now. My thanks to Mark File, at Romantic Asheville, for permission to use the photo of The Folk Art Center, and to Mary Stori for the Inspired By images. Thanks also to The Biltmore Company for use of the Biltmore image; the annual Festival of Flowers opens there this weekend.
‘Til next time, happy stitching!