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The Contact: Quilts of the Sierra Nevada by Ann Johnston

Oct. 17, 2013

The word "contact" refers to a place where geologic units touch each other. A mining claim at 11,000 feet, near Tioga Pass, California, has been in Ann Johnston's family since before it was patented in 1881. It is a place where you can see bands of colors in the earth, mineral-rich rock squeezed between intrusions of white granite on the west and dark metamorphic rocks on the eastern slope. The word "contact" also conjures a human influence on the landscape. The forests, the rivers, and even the mountains themselves have been shaped forever by people seeking their fortunes.

The Contact series is comprised so far of 13 quilts, all seven feet tall. The process has involved Johnston looking hard at what is there on the land at present as well as trying to imagine events unseen. It has also required her to further explore surface design techniques and precision color mixing as she dyes many very large pieces of fabric. In addition to using brushes, sponges and rollers, techniques include making very smooth value gradations, fine details with water-soluble resists, and monoprinted shapes and textures. Each piece represents multiple transitions in idea and design--from the small drawings to the large, from imagination to the cloth, and from the assembled fabric to the final stitched quilt.

Johnston is a renowned quilt artist who has perfected her craft through years of experimentation with dye and fabric. She holds a master's degree in geography from the University of Oregon and is a self-taught artist who now travels the world exhibiting her work and teaching. Her quilts are constructed in both traditional and contemporary techniques. Johnston has written numerous books and presents workshop and lectures nationally and internationally.

The museum will host a reception for the artist and gallery talk on Thursday, Oct 24, 5:30-7pm. The public is cordially invited.


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