TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Paducah Quilt Show Experience

Yesterday we went to the Quilt Show here in Paducah. We represented a microcosm of all the thousands of women who were also there: Me, now living here in Paducah, my Mom, Donna Biel from Mondovi, Wisconsin along with my auntie, Nyla Gislason from Boston, and my friend, Diane Gerlach, from Kenosha, Wisconsin.

My Aunt Nyla and my Mom in front of a Japanese exhibit.

As usual, the show is an experience of sensory overload with all its colors, textures, throngs of people, vendors, and the wonderful quilts. We started at the back end and worked our way to the main exhibit hall. A big mistake!

As you walk, you see rooms with aisles of quilts:

There are people everywhere!

Great vendors with oodles of patience, cool gadgets, the latest books and tools, and fabric, fabric, fabric!

The Scissors Man

Tina, from The Guild was working the Bernina booth (she sold me my Bernina)

This woman was very entertaining- she had a powdered glue product, Bo-Nash, that magically repairs holes, hems things and has thousands of uses. We all bought it.

Diane with a Hmong vendor.

The mistake we made was that there was so much to see that we got tired. We should have started at the main hall and worked our way out to the vendors. By the time we got to the quilts, I had no patience for taking good photos, even though I saw one quilt after another that I found inspiring and interesting. Then I found out that we are not allowed to post photos online of single quilts, so I guess it's just as well... So many colors and textures!

Each of us were drawn in different directions, with our own color preferences and thematic interests. Above, Diane looks closely at a quilt of a woman looking through a windowed door.

I was especially drawn to quilts with international or cultural themes. I saw one of a Native American where the face was solid embroidery. I was amazed at the artist's ability to capture so much expression with such density of thread. Another, Cool Camels of Egypt, made me laugh.

A quilt that was titled something like "The Burning of Baghdad" moved me. I remember the artist's name, Donna Hussein, and imagine, that like me, Donna married into another culture and uses her voice to address concerns there. I found the quilt powerful and would love to learn more about her work.

By the time we got to the Best of Show, our legs, feet, lower backs, and hips were screaming. Concrete floors claim their victims. The winning quilt was obviously gorgeous, interesting, and worthy of its prize. We heard that it took four years to make.

We hurried by and kept moving to the exit, joining hundreds of other women who were piling up in corridors, outside, anywhere where they could sit, remove their shoes and breathe a sigh of relief.

My mother is a real trooper though! At 70, she is in way better shape than I am. She could have kept it up for a couple more hours. She was a little tired, but more than that, she was happy to have had the Paducah quilt show experience!

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