Exhibition – “Coulter Fussell: The Raw Materials of Escape:

Quilter Coulter Fussell’s early-developed artsview perceives craft and other arts as indistinguishable from one another. Painting, sculpture, and textile work are one solitary entity in her mind. From youth, the combination developed into an unintentional mash-up, resulting in quilts and textile works that defy expectations of the medium. Fussell relies on the no-holds-barred nature of contemporary painting rules to free her compositions from the constraints of pattern. In turn, she simultaneously relies on the strict discipline of traditional craftwork to act as a self-editing tool. 

Fussell learned to sew by watching her mother, Cathy Fussell, who is herself a renowned quiltmaker. She was determined to be an artist, which—in her young mind—meant that she should be a painter. All through her twenties, Fussell’s focus was painting. However, in a series of firsts, this focus shifted when the birth of her first child prompted her to create her first quilt. Fussell found the issues she had attempted to explore through painting were better addressed with fabric. For Fussell, fabric’s limitations in palette and material offered an infinite amount of freedom in their strictures. Fussell’s work, unlike traditional quilts, does not adhere to a predetermined pattern. Instead, her work retains the wholeness of a quilt while utilizing techniques one would expect to find in painting. For instance, foreground and background are established with the purposeful balance of light and dark materials. In this way, Fussell’s work blurs the lines between art and craft, positing that both practices have an element of functionality and non-functionality.

Conventional quilts are anchored by their wholeness, most often achieved through geometric pattern. Fussell’s work breaks with this traditional fabrication to instead produce quilts that are painterly in composition while retaining the conceptual wholeness of a quilt. Fussell follows no patterns and does not sketch before she begins composing her work. She paints in textiles, positioning small squares of silk and bolts of antique fabrics on the floor of her studio, moving and layering pieces until she is satisfied with their relationship. The result is an object that reverently heeds the quilting process that has been passed down from generation to generation in Fussell’s family and in families across the globe. The result is also an object that confronts this tradition, challenging the viewer to find room for quilts that are paintings and paintings that are quilts.

Jan-17-20 - Feb-29-20 All day