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Dittmar Gallery Winter 2007 Exhibition to Focus on Art Quilts

December 12, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The art quilts that Chicago artists Mary Jo Bowers and Donna June Katz create are meant to enhance a wall rather than a bed.

Their colorful, one-of-a-kind creations will be featured on Northwestern University's Evanston campus during the Dittmar Memorial Gallery's Winter 2007 exhibition “Forms and Formations,” which will be open for public viewing from Jan. 8 through Feb. 11.

The public will have the opportunity to meet both artists during an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, at the Dittmar Gallery, located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive. Admission to the gallery's exhibition and the opening reception are both free.

Bowers and Katz -- who work independently of each other -- like to break the traditional patterns of quilt making by creating flowing organic images with vivid shades of paint or dye and various fabrics.

Bowers, who has a studio in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood, creates art quilts that appear harmonious and yet have elements of tension that she achieves by manipulating the emotional impact of color, shape and line. Her artistic goal is to tell a story in art quilts and leave the interpretation up to each viewer. She dyes the cotton or silk in her art quilts and combines it with commercially dyed fabrics that she re-dyes to achieve her desired effect. Sometimes she cuts up old clothing for her quilts. Her quilts are finished with hand and machine embroidery and quilting and possibly beading. Bowers has titled one of her contemporary art quilts in the Dittmar Gallery exhibition “Gentle Curves” and another “Circles III.” Bowers' art quilts are in private and public collections and include a Memorial Piece that commemorates the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks. For more information on Bowers visit <http://maryjobowers.com/>.

Natural history and the environment and an exploration of the boundaries between art and nature inspire Katz, who was raised in Evanston and works in her Lakeview neighborhood studio. She hand paints her quilts on unbleached muslin to reflect her interest in geology, landscape, nature, maps and patterning. She depicts carefully researched flora, fauna, fossilized life-forms and landforms and often intermingles life-forms that existed during different eras. She often alters relative sizes and includes varying points of view. One of her art quilts in the Dittmar exhibition is titled “Scattered Leaves with Planets” and another “Bottom of The Sky.” Katz received the First Prize James R. Thompson Award for Excellence in Craft in 2005 and is a 2002 recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship grant. Her work has been exhibited nationwide and her quilts are included in several corporate collections. For more information on Katz visit <www.donnajunekatz.com>.

For more information about the Dittmar Memorial Gallery's 2007 Winter exhibition call (847) 491-2348 or visit <dittmargallery@northwestern.edu>.

Topics: Campus Life