Full Deck Art Quilts


December 5, 1998–January 17, 1999

Curated by Trish Williamson

Full Deck Art Quilts is an exhibition of dramatically colored quilts inspired by playing card images. Coordinator for the exhibition is Trish Williamson. Co-developed by artist Sue Pierce and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), Full Deck Art Quilts features the creative work of 54 leading quilt artists who responded to a single challenge. Each of the artists, including Pierce, selected and visually interpreted one typical card image, such as the king of hearts, to create a combined playing deck that teases the imagination. The resulting art quilts feature diverse textures and styles ranging from photographic realism to abstract color and form.

"It was interesting to see how the artists' minds went in different directions," Pierce says. "They analyzed words, made puns and pursued fun mental games. Others did pieces with imagery very much like their other quilts, but they worked the suit marks into the background to identify the cards used." According to Pierce, today's quilters are softening the boundaries between quiIt making and other art forms. "More of the methods that have been identified with fine art are being applied to quilting. Some artists use techniques such as printmaking and image transfer ... some use sculptural approaches. In general, you see more embellishments now, and they range from traditional textile (ornamentation) to beading, sculptural polymer work and found objects." Pierce created Full Deck Art Quilts with notable fiber artists such as Jean Ray Laury, Yvonne Porcella, Carol Bryer Fallert and the husband and wife team of Susan Shie and James Acord. They joined other quilters in a grassroots effort that they hope will introduce new audiences to the creative power of quilt art.

SITES is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution that develops, organizes and circulates exhibitions on art, history and science throughout the United States and abroad.

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