Sunday, January 20, 2013

Art Show: "Painting on Fabric," by Peggy Brown at The Art Quilt Gallery

Once again there is a new show at my favorite New York art venue, The Art Quilt Gallery!

The current show, "Painting on Fabric," features quilted pieces by Peggy Brown.  Because Ms. Brown has come to quilting from a career as a watercolorist and mixed-media painter, she brings an unusual approach and set of skills into her art quilts. As soon as I visited Peggy Brown's website prior to stopping by the gallery, I knew that this show would not be quite like any I have seen so far at The Art Quilt Gallery, and that I would love her work! 

As always, forgive the less-than-perfect photography...

Peggy Brown -Another Form II
"Another Form II" by Peggy Brown

 One reason these quilts feel so substantially different from others I have seen at The Art Quilt Gallery is that Peggy Brown, in many of her pieces, incorporates quantities of beautifully worn and wrinkled watercolor paper, creating a very leathery book-like surface.  The quilts that feature areas of painted paper have a substantial quality, and they feel almost like ancient and accidental artifacts.

Peggy Brown -Winter Water
"Winter Water" by Peggy Brown

 My sense that something magical and accidental must be transpiring is apparently not too crazy, as Brown describes her painting and quilting processes this way:
"My studio time is divided between “paintings on paper” and my newer obsession,”paintings on fabric.”  I approach both from the viewpoint of a watercolor artist using the same media and methods I have used for years. To begin, I wet the substrate, either paper or fabric, then freely brush on paint letting the pigments mingle and follow their personal paths as they dry.  This process may be repeated several times for more depth and richness.  After drying the marks on the paper or fabric inspire and help me choose a way to continue and complete the image. My goal is to take a free-flowing start, and using collage, overlays of more pigment and drawing, compose a well-designed finish."

Peggy Brown -In Motion
"In Motion" by Peggy Brown

 Some of the quilts also incorporate digital imagery, and Brown has successfully tackled one of the major challenges faced by quilt artists who use digital processes in our work: her pieces have none of that aggravating telltale quality that makes a quilt seem to scream, "Parts of me were printed out from a computer, isn't it distracting!" The elements of her work described as "digital transfers to silk" have a fabulous deep, jewel-like quality that definitely drew me in. 

Peggy Brown -New Directions
"New Directions" by Peggy Brown

 Brown had this to say about what she hopes her work will communicate:
"I try to express images that are on, above and below the surface. By keeping each painted layer transparent, I invite the viewer to follow as I work and perceive the process from tentative beginnings to the final touch.  Some of my beginnings become non-objective abstracts.  Some become landscapes or still life. The entire process is collaboration between watercolor - the medium; and myself - the artist. I think we both enjoy ourselves."

Peggy Brown -When September Ends
"When September Ends" by Peggy Brown
Peggy Brown's work absolutely reinforces my belief that, to bring in a quote from my own artist statement, "quilting is the most exciting medium a person could choose because an artist can, quite literally, incorporate elements from any other medium into an art quilt. There are very few techniques [one cannot] bring to an art quilt, and I enjoy the challenge of translating between the qualities that define a quilt and the qualities inherent in other media - they often can seem completely contradictory," but in reality are wonderfully symbiotic.

As I always say, if you're able you should absolutely go forth and check out the gorgeous pieces in Peggy Brown's show! It will make your day and make you want to mix a few different media together in your own studio when you get home.  


  1. I adore the last one in particular. It makes me think of airplane view.

  2. I definitely can see the watercolor influence. Very airy and light works. Lovely and beautiful work.


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