Press-Republican

June 10, 2013

Gallery takes on extreme nature quilts

By ROBIN CAUDELL
Press-Republican

---- — SHELBURNE — The “wow factor” is immeasurable for “Larger Than Life: Quilts by Velda Newman” on exhibit through Oct. 31 at the Shelburne Museum. 

The sheer vibrancy of works like “Zinnia” dazzles and beckons as soon as one steps into the Hat and Fragrance Textile Gallery.

The elements of “Zinnia” are hand-dyed cotton, sateen, paint and ink. It is hand appliquéd and hand quilted, and measures 88 inches by 211 inches.

When the Nevada City, Calif.,-based artist began making quilts, their unconventional, horizontal format was innovative at the time.

About her work, she said in the exhibit’s accompanying text:

“My approach to quilt design is similar to a painter’s: I use color, composition and scale to capture the spirit of nature, but through the medium of fabric and thread. Many classic works of art depict nature on a scale smaller than real life. A landscape places you in a relatively distant position and even still life may portray the subject at less than its actual size. I do just the opposite: I take life and amplify it.”

“Bass: In Your Dreams” is more muted but is as bold a composition as “Zinnia.” Newman used hand-dyed kona cotton, paint, ink and metal thread. It is hand appliquéd and hand quilted. To get the fish-in-water illusion, she taped the cloth to a plywood sheet and poured turquoise paint on it.

She created “Baskets” at the millennium. Each one of the baskets was created separately and topstitched into place.

About her works, she said:

“When you stand in front of one of my quilts, I hope you will feel surrounded by its vast color and sweeping shapes. But the greatest emotional and aesthetic impact comes from the larger-than-life size.”

“Wings,” created in 1994, is a dance of butterflies made of silks, cottons, batiks, paint and ink. It is hand and machine quilted.

Newman is an internationally recognized contemporary textile artist. The 3-D quality of her work has garnered many awards, including her “Hydrangea,” which was recognized as one of the top 100 quilts of the 20th century. Her quilts have been exhibited in the United States, Europe and Japan and are held in private and public collections.

“Seashells” is a breathtaking homage to the beach and her shell fascination.

Though her subject matter ranges from land to sea, there is a resonance between the diverse subjects. They all, amazingly, start with white fabric. Each piece is hand dyed and painted with acrylics to create specific designs.

“Sunkissed” is a luscious ode to fruits and vegetables that she saw during her childhood when she went to the market with her mother.

About her process, she said:

“For a soft appearance on fruit and flowers, I always use hand stitching. To create the ‘hard’ edges on shells and baskets, I machine stitch.”

Email Robin Caudell:rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

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IF YOU GO

WHAT: "Larger Than Life: Quilts by Velda Newman."

WHEN: Through Oct. 31. HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.daily. Select buildings open until 7 p.m. Wednesday evenings in July and August.

ADMISSION: $22 for adults, $11 for ages 5 to 18, and free for children under 5. A family-day pass costs $55 (two adults and children ages 5 to 18). After 3 p.m., admission is $15 for adults and $7 for children except on Wednesdays in July and August. Free for active military and disabled veterans with ID. Retired military receive $2 off full-price admission.

CONTACT: (802) 985-3346