Quilting a comfortable medium for Hope artistSarah Ann Smith qualifies for international event
Hope — After a quarter century of honing her craft, Sarah Ann Smith of Hope has been selected to have a quilt judged and displayed at one of the most prestigious quilting shows in the country.
The American Quilters Society Quilt Week is an internationally-known quilting expo and competition in its 30th year and Smith’s quilt titled "Conversations 1" has been selected to compete as a semi-finalist. The event in Paducah, Ky., is one of the two largest in the United States, next to a show in Houston every year, according to Smith.
“To be a semi-finalist at this competition is kind of like a seal of approval from the quilting world that I have done the work, good work and they believe that my quilts are worthy of being juried by for this event," Smith said.
Unlike traditional quilts that are made to keep warm, Smith creates pieces of hanging art.
“I am an artistic quilter,” Smith said. “I create quilts that are meant to be on the wall for people to admire. They are made out of textiles and threads, cloth batting, paint, beads rocks, feathers or whatever I feel like, to create art to hang on the wall.”
Smith said she feels the pinnacle accomplishment would be to earn one of the top honors at this year's show, but said just being one of the semi-finalist is encouragement enough.
“I have been juried into the big show in Texas and I have taught at these events as well. Obviously I would love to win one of the top prizes, but just getting this far is an honor,” she said.
Smith hasn’t always been an art quilter; it has been during the last 12 years that she has focused on this particular discipline. In a relatively short period of time Smith has reached the level to where others seek her advice because of her expertise.
“There are a lot of quilters out there that know more than me, but I have gained enough knowledge and produced enough quality work and have been at it long enough to be able to be considered good enough to teach on the topic,” she said.
Smith said she has really started to focus on other aspects of her craft that not only apply to quilting, but other forms of art as well.
“I have really have focused on design and composition, which applies to any medium you work in,” Smith said. “An art quilt works or doesn’t work based on the same principles as photography and painting, so learning more about what to and not to do only make the quilt better.”
Smith’s semi-finalist quilt was inspired by a picture of a patio and chairs that is in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Smith said she was able to visit the museum and took many pictures to help recreate the image.
“I was so excited about this piece because I started with a plain white cloth and dyed it to the appropriate colors and textures,” Smith said. “The name came when I realized all the conversations going on between the architecture and the patio and chairs, the lights and darks, the ocean and the buildings, patrons, there were all sorts of conversations going on.”
The 2014 AQS Quilt Week is slated for April 23-26 and is expected to draw 30,000 people.
Three quilting authorities will judge the elite group awarding first, second, and third place prizes in 16 categories, along with nine overall awards. Winners will be announced at the show.
The American Quilter’s Society hosts seven shows annually, each with its own quilt contest. Besides the Paducah show, AQS hosts other shows in Lancaster, Pa.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Charlotte, N.C.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Des Moines, Iowa.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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