Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

A Finely Stitched Line: Quilt Art at Temple Har Shalom

Machine by Ofra Danonn

The line between art and craft may be no finer than when quilts are the topic of discussion. Quilts have resided happily in the craft category for centuries, but in the last 30 years or so, some quilts have made their way off of beds and on to walls. These are known as art quilts and are commanding high prices in the art market and providing cachet in museum collections.

All art quilts are not created equal, however. The relative novelty of a quilt on the wall doesn’t necessarily catapult it into fine art territory. As with all art, some people are just plain better at it than others, and a high quality art quilt demonstrates a mastery of subject, design and content – as well as technical ability.

The Israeli Quilt Exhibit at the Temple Har Shalom in Park City evinces a mixture of quality, though the collection as a whole is interesting in that the quilts are all made by Israelis and focus on the theme of spirituality, music, the cycle of life and the City of Jerusalem. The setting is also stunningly beautiful with mountain views out the numerous Temple windows and lots of natural light in the main area. Unfortunately, however, some of the quilts have been relegated to dark stairwells and hallways, which is somewhat of a disservice to the art as a whole.

Self-portrait by Hava Katzir


The Show Must Not Go On by Hava Katzir

Music in Nature by Hava Katzir

Of the 10 artists in the exhibit, three rise to the top with their quilts. One of the best is right at the entrance and is a self-portrait by Hava Katzir. Her use of color and light is remarkable and illustrates superior technical ability in the quilt’s execution. According to the bio provided for the exhibit, Katir was born in 1963 and lives in Mevaseret Zion where she teaches quilting in her studio and has dedicated her life to the art of quilting. This conscious focus on her art is evident in two other quilts in the exhibit. Completely different in style, “The Show Must Not Go On” and “Music in Nature” illustrate the range of the artist’s talent with their excellent focus on color and design.

The second noteworthy artist is Ita Ziv. Born in Russia in 1945, she immigrated to Israel soon thereafter. Her original profession was as a children’s clothing designer and professional makeup artist. Currently she focuses mainly on modern quilts, and her works are recognized by the transparent and plastic material she uses. One quilt in the exhibit is particularly innovative in this regard. Composed of multiple layers of plastic bags, the artist cut through tiny sections formed by gold stitching to expose the different colors and designs that comprise “Recycling.”

Recycling by Ita Ziv

Ziv explores the transparent component of organza fabric in her quilt “People – Searching I” |5| and shows excellent mastery of color and line in the use of a striped background fabric that has been cut into small irregular shapes and pieced back together. “Renewal” uses some of the same techniques as “People” and is particularly clever in its incorporation of menorahs into its leaf design.

Ofra Danon brings a lighter and more humorous touch to the exhibit. Born in 1951 on Kibbutz Yiftach in Upper Galilee, Dannon graduated from the Itzuvim School of Design where she became interested in quilting as an art form. Her quilts “Family Geometry” and “Machine” are remarkable for their attention to detail and are best appreciated when studied closely. “Spring” is also extraordinary in its fine details, though the background could be better integrated into the overall design.

People Searching I by Ita Ziv


Renewal by Ita Ziv

In contrast to the above, some of the quilts in the exhibit do not succeed as high quality art. Some of the quilts are a rehash of traditional quilt patterns with mismatched surface elements, or illustrate a hodegpodge of color and confused design. Still another approaches the level of kitsch, though it may elicit smiles from other quilters with too many fabrics in their collections.

That being said, however, it is a pleasure to have a quilt exhibit in Utah that exposes more of the general population to the possibilities of high quality textile art. Quilt exhibits featuring Utah quilters are often disappointing and do not come close to the quality and innovation found in international quilt shows sponsored by other states (Japanese quilters in particular are rising to the top of the awards circuit). So, kudos to Temple Har Shalom for sponsoring the Israeli Quilt Exhibit.

Family Geometry by Ofra Danon


Spring by Ofra Danon

Temple Har Shalom is open Monday-Thursday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm; Friday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and is located directly off Route 224 (the route to Park City). The exhibit runs through December 20.

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