The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 1, 2002


Museum Review Oxymorons:Absurdly Logical Quilts

New England Quilt Museum

18 Shattuck Street, Lowell

January 24 - March 16, 2002

These are not your grandmother's quilts. This unique exhibit includes 40 quilts that were created to meet a challenge put forth by the Renegades, a group of five contemporary quilt artists from Maine. These five combined to form QuiltShare in 1994 to support and encourage each other's work. In 1999, they developed the idea for Oxymorons, which evolved from a combination of their love of language, humor, and art quilts. The Renegades then invited quilt artists that they admired to participate in the challenge of creating quilts that are based on, or interpret, an oxymoron ­ the juxtaposition of contradictory words. The only creative restriction given was the size, which was to be a uniform 30 inches wide by 40 inches long.

Each quilt has a story attached to it. Some of the works reflect personal responses to experiences in the artists' life as in Silent Scream, which was influenced by the death of close friends. Some use humor or irony as in Certain Possibilities which asserts that while death and taxes are certainties, so are dandelions. Some artists up the ante by adding their own challenges as with Pretty Ugly, in which the artist set out to take ugly fabric and transform it into something beautiful.

The quilts in this exhibit are superbly executed and show a range of styles and techniques. A few show a closer kinship to collage than to traditional quilts. The quilt Old News reads like a fiber collage. This piece effectively explores the relationship between our modern newspaper and medieval manuscripts.

The American Quilters' Society (AQS) has published a companion book to the exhibit - Oxymorons: Absurdly Logical Quilts! that showcases the exhibit's quilts and their makers. Delving into the artistic process employed by each quilt-maker, the book features explanations of their thought processes and techniques used in designing the oxy-quilt.

How to get to the museum: From either Route 495 (Exit 35C), or Route 3 (exit 30N Northbound or 30A Southbound) take the Lowell Connector about 2 miles to Thorndike Street (Exit 5B). At the 4th light, Thorndike Street merges into Dutton Street. Go to the 2nd light and turn right onto Market Street. Parking is available in the municipal garage on Market Street just one block from the museum or at meters on the street in the neighborhood. A parking lot behind the museum is available for free parking on weekends only. Take the first left off Market St. onto Palmer Street at the light across from the garage, then the first left onto Middle Street. You'll recognize the building by the huge quilt painted on the back wall.

Museum hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for students/senior citizens; Museum members are free. Handicapped parking is available. The gallery will be closed Sunday, March 17 through Wednesday, March 20 for hanging of the new exhibit.

What's next at the museum?

"Silver Threads: Quilters' Connection at Twenty-five" is an exhibition of outstanding traditional and innovative quilts made by members of the Arlington, Massachusetts Quilt Guild. The exhibit will run from March 21 through June 2. On March 23, there will be a free gallery tour and reception at 1 p.m.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito