New exhibit features fabrics

Published 11:18 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Typically, art is difficult to cuddle with.

After all, it would be difficult to fall asleep embracing an oversized canvas in a frame, or a whittled wood sculpture. However, the current exhibit at the Suffolk Museum comes a little closer to what some people might want to have in their beds.

The exhibit, “New Image: New Visions” comes from the New Image Artists group, based in the greater Washington, D.C. area. The group, founded in 1980 with eight members, was originally known as the New Image Quilters.

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“A lot of them began as traditional quilters,” said Nancy Kinzinger, who works at the Suffolk Museum.

In collaboration with the “New Image: Mirror Image” exhibit, by the same group, at Rawls Museum Arts in Courtland, the Suffolk Museum asked for new works from the artists to display through Oct. 30. The group specializes in fiber arts, with some still doing traditional quilting — though their works are meant for the wall, not the bed — and some moving on to more contemporary ways of using fiber.

The current 11 members of the group, including three original members, meet monthly to share ideas, support each other and work on group projects. Because personal contact and active participation are valued, affiliate or non-attending membership in the group is not an option. When members move or re-focus their art priorities, new members are added by invitation, with a group review of submitted images and resume.

When the group was founded, the its members faced an uphill battle in getting quilts accepted as art, according to its Web site. Most people associated quilts with a home-based scrap craft, not an artistic endeavor.

The group’s first show, however, at the Art Barn in Washington, D.C., broke gallery attendance records. Afterward, the members worked on collaborative projects, with each artist responding in her own way to a theme or question.

Art in the Suffolk Museum show includes some traditional quilts, while other works are better described as fabric sculptures. Traditional quilts feature various stylings of the letters X, Y and Z, while the fabric sculpture “Tip of the Iceberg” painstakingly outlines the plight of polar bears in an increasingly industrialized North.

For more information on the New Image Artists, visit For more information on the Suffolk Museum, call 514-7284.