In late June, I went to California to teach at the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association. I was fortunate to spend a wonderful afternoon at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. The main exhibit was from Visions 2013 and no photographs were allowed. In the entrance hall, where photographs were allowed, there was an interesting exhibit entitled Now and Then: Early Art Quilts by Ros Cross 1973-1976. Broken Quilt, made in 1976 is made with cotton, unbleached cotton muslin, polyester batting and polyurethane. Some of the fabrics are hand tea-dyed and the quilt is machine quilted with a double lined grid in the background.
As you can see the fragments of quilts are stuffed adding to the visual imagery and making them look like shards of broken pottery. Ros Cross works in a variety of media including sculpture, drawing, painting and monoprinting. Early in her artistic career she moved from her native home of England to America and began working with textiles. She was fascinated with and inspired by the American quilt tradition and her art work evolved and digressed into quilt making, but without reference to traditional quilting techniques. She connected the worlds of contemporary art practice with the more historical quilt tradition and was way ahead of her time.
Flags, made in 1975 with polyester cotton blend fabric and machine quilting reminds me of mortar boards at a graduation. These three-dimensional black flags cast interesting shadows on the quilt and their appearance changed as you walked past. I find it inspiring and refreshing to see such an innovative approach to quilting and these quilts were made almost forty years ago!