Exhibit spans the spectrum of quilting

Rua Pokladnik

When most people think of quilts, they think of something their grandmothers made from odds and ends of fabric to throw on a bed.

But to the members of the Museum of American Quilter’s Society, this is not the case. The group is holding its 6th Annual quilt exhibit, entitled “Kaleidoscope Quilts: New Quilts from an Old Favorite,” which is on display until February 27 at the Octagon Center for the Arts, 427 Douglas Avenue in Ames.

The exhibit, which is in fact a contest, is made up of 18 quilts chosen from thousands of entries made by people from around the world.

“It’s incredible,” Kristin Benson, curator of the Octagon, said about the exhibit. “A lot of [the quilts] I wouldn’t think of to use as a blanket. So that I would consider art, but it is more of a hands-on craft. The actual dyeing and piecing and quilting is definitely a craft. The end product is art.”

Each year, the Museum of American Quilter’s Society chooses a traditional quilting pattern for the participants to start from, allowing them to be creative and expand the pattern into a design of their own.

“It challenges the women,” Benson said.

To the women who designed and constructed these quilts, they are more than just pieces of fabric sewn together.

Ann Harwell’s quilt, “Balance the Scales of World Justice,” was partly inspired by her son.

“My quilts are to communicate ideas, express feelings, and tell stories,” Harwell said in her artist’s statement. “When my son was in the Persian Gulf in 1997 on the aircraft carrier, I was concerned about the United Nations’ ability to bring about world justice in the Gulf crisis and in so many other situations. This quilt is a plea for world justice.”

For those interested in seeing the exhibit, the Octagon Center for the Arts is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.