The 51 quilts in Circular Abstractions: Bull’s Eye Quilts — premiering at the Muskegon Museum of Art — have been conceived in improvisation, in building upon or breaking down an established pattern into something new and individually expressive. Guest curator Nancy Crow challenged the 43 participating artists to create a unique design based upon the Bull’s Eye pattern: four circles comprised of concentric rings (the iconic target symbol), set in a grid of four blocks, or quadrants. Artists from the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa responded to the invitation, deconstructing and re-assembling the bull’s eye into new compositions.
The result is a strikingly complex body of images, with each piece conveying its own distinct voice. Many of the artists maintain the quadrants, with circles that vary from the rigidly geometric to wildly organic. For others, the circles break their boundaries, shift in scale, or even come to dominate the entire plane. This variety is a celebration of creativity and visual experimentation. For the viewer, it is an invitation to experience the myriad possibilities of color and shape, and to evaluate the success of each artist in transforming the simple bull’s eye into something more. Abstraction defines both the visual and conceptual content of these quilts. Combinations of colors and shapes call to mind familiar imagery, establishing a rapport with the viewer. The use of color and pattern establishes emotional cues, with visual rhythm the dominant component, from gentle undulations and carefully regimented beats to frantic, jagged explosions.
The inherent physicality of these pieces, their material and craft, enriches not just the pictorial design, but the conceptual content as well. The act of building a quilt is a perfect expression of reconstructing a given form into something new. Just as the artist is breaking apart and re-assembling the components of a bull’s eye, so too is the face of the quilt being constructed by piecing together smaller fragments of fabric into a single new design.
Circular Abstractions: Bull’s Eye Quilts is a celebration of design and the skill of the artist. Speaking through the fundamental tools of art-making —pattern, color, design, composition, rhythm, value, and movement— these pieces communicate a host of impressions and narratives. For the viewer, it is a remarkable display not only of improvisation and expression, but of artists continuing the tradition of pushing the boundaries of their medium and demonstrating a mastery of their craft.
Exhibiting artists: Patricia Altenburg, Anne Anderson, Sharon Anderson, Kathy Anso, Marina Baudoin, Catherine Beard, Nancy Cordry, Sue Cortese, Cheryl Costley, Stefani Danes, Julie Drake, Maria Elkins, Tommy Fitzsimmons, Valerie Maser-Flanagan, Diana Fox, Julia Graziano, Kerri Green, Patricia Guthrie, Ruth Harmelink, Carol Hazen, Wendy Hook, Maren Johnston, Monica Johnstone, Roxanna Kantarjian, Kaci Kyler, Pamela Loewen, Beth Markel, Marni McMahan, Brenda McPartlin, Diane Melms, Sue Ritter Milling, Kathy Mishima, Randi Morgan, Adrienne Murray, Gael O’Donnell, Heather Pregger, Karen Querna, Lee Sproull, Dale Tomlinson, Susan Wessels, Susan K. Willen
Exhibition overview from museum website