Contemporary fiber artists working over the last forty years have mined American folk quilts for techniques and patterns commonly seen in these ubiquitous domestic objects. Drawing inspiration from the quilt's geometric structure, contrasting, often bold color and fabric combinations, and decorative layers of stitches, the artists featured in this exhibition explore personal expression through references to this traditional textile art. Combining multiple techniques with a conscious, sophisticated approach to composition, many of these works can be seen in the context of the so-called "surface design" movement active since the 1970s.
"Layered Abstraction" features a variety of contemporary fiber arts from the MIA's collection. In addition to works by Sheila Hicks, Jack Lenor Larsen, and Jan Myers, it will showcase a recent MIA acquisition: Mary Lee Bendolph's striking quilt, Strings, a contemporary example of the Gee's Bend, Alabama, quilting style. Strings well illustrates how the Gee's Bend quilters have interpreted traditional designs in highly-individualized fashions, producing functional quilts that are now prized as abstract artworks. The exhibition will also feature quilt-inspired garments from the Goldstein Museum of Design and, as part of the MIA's ReMix initiative, an exploration of layered abstraction in relief sculpture by Minnesota abstract artist Charles Biederman.