When Janice White and Patti Hyder were approached last year about showing their art in Portland State’s Littman Gallery, they were thrilled. After almost 20 years of honing their craft, the two longtime friends were ready to display their complex work in their first real gallery show. Their art? Quilts. It’s not exactly the usual gallery fare.
When Janice White and Patti Hyder were approached last year about showing their art in Portland State’s Littman Gallery, they were thrilled. After almost 20 years of honing their craft, the two longtime friends were ready to display their complex work in their first real gallery show. Their art? Quilts.
It’s not exactly the usual gallery fare.
Beyond their annual participation in the Barefoot Quilt Festival at the Jenkins Estate in Aloha and a cafe show here and there, both White and Hyder have worked more or less privately, building their own home studios and using their quilting groups and each other to critique their work. So when their first show, Changing Views, opens this Thursday in the Littman Gallery, it will be a new experience for both of them.
Both artists feel this is the right direction to move in.
“We just wanted to find another venue to show in,” White explained in a phone interview. “Plus, we wanted to show people that these aren’t your mother’s quilts that you can just throw on a bed–they’re pieces of art that need to be hung on a wall.”
And art they most definitely are. Lush, richly textured landscapes and bold abstract forms in red, black and gold dominate the exhibit of about 30 quilts in the gallery, most of which were completed within the past year and have never been shown before.
In White’s work, the fabrics reflect her interest in Pacific Northwest scenery as well as her attraction to imported fabric and designs from Hong Kong and Thailand. “I’m lucky in my job that I can travel and go to different countries,” said White, who works full time at Nike while pursuing her art in the evenings and during weekends and vacations.
Asked if working a job that is separate from her life as an artist is a hindrance, White replied, “to me it helps … you don’t get burned out; you get to come and go as you please.” She added that her frequent business travel gives her the chance to see foreign clothing and textile designs, sketch and shop for new fabrics.
While she converts landscape scenery and bits of paintings, stained glass or even blown glass into freestyle quilt designs, White said the fabrics themselves are often the inspiration for her work. Strongly influenced by Chinese writing and the flat, expressive style of traditional painting, White’s quilts adopt dimension with multiple panels and appliqué, a French needlework technique.
Hyder explained her work process, closely associating it with White’s: “Sometimes I start a design in my head and I find fabric that fits in that design, and other times it’s the fabric that literally screams out.”
In some of Hyder’s works, this process means framing an appealing textile with a border textured with layers of fabric or paint, while in others fabric is simply laid on fabric, with the edges left raw.
Both artists prove that quilts can do more than just keep you warm–they can be beautiful, too.
Littman Gallery, SMSU, room 250
Opening reception: April 3 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Regular hours are noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday