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Ky. Arts Council award winner

Owenton's Seigel recognized for her talent
in making unique quilt designs

By Helen McKinney
Contributing Writer

OWENTON, Ky. (March 2004) – Rebekka Seigel has been stitching quilts for a long time. They have become her past, present and future view of the world in which she lives.
“My grandmother made quilts,” she said. “I followed her example.”
Seigel created her first quilt when expecting her first child. While she learned basic traditional methods from her grandmother, she incorporates her own ideas and techniques into the finished product.

Rebekka Seigel

Photo provided

Rebekka Seigel

Her quilts are far from ordinary bed quilts. They hang in private collections, galleries and are exhibited in many museums across Kentucky and the United States. She is one of 14 visual media artists in Kentucky to receive the 2004 Al Smith Fellowship Award. The fellowship program recognizes and encourages excellence of Kentucky artists.
The fellowships are $7,500 awards presented through the Individual Artists Program of the Kentucky Arts Council. Recipients are not restricted on how they use this money, said Ed Lawrence, Public Information Officer for the Kentucky Arts Council. Often, the money provides them the “chance to get time and space to actually create more work.”
The fellowship program is named after journalist and former KAC board chairman, Al Smith. A five-member panel of in-state and out-of-state artists and arts professionals reviewed anonymous applications and selected artists to receive the fellowships. Artists submitted 10 slides representative of their work along with the application, said Lawrence.
Work was judged on certain criteria, said Lawrence, which included 75 percent for artistic excellence, 15 percent for professional achievement, and 10 percent for enhancement of the artist (as a result of receiving the fellowship).
The award is “a stamp of approval,” said Lawrence. “It opens new markets and brings national prestige. There are many side benefits.”
“I feel very honored to have received the award,” said Seigel, 56, a Cincinnati native. She has called Owen County, Ky., home for the past 30 years.
She received the award based on her artistic achievement, and much attention has been given to her popular Paper Doll series of quilts. These quilts, on exhibit until April 3 at the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Ky., were designed to honor women of the 20th century that Seigel found to be historically significant.
The Paper Doll series employs traditional methodology but is presented in a co

Rebekka Seigel quilt

Photo provided

Quilt by Rebekka Seigel.

ntemporary way, said Brion Clinkingbeard, deputy director of programming and curator of the Kentucky Museum of Arts + Design in Louisville. Two of her quilts hang in a permanent collection at the museum.
Clinkingbeard said Seigel has exhibited her work at the museum several times over the last decade, including one show where her quilts provided a backdrop for her husband, Greg’s, ceramics. Her Paper Doll series was exhibited in March-May 2001.
There are many aspects of quilting that she favors. One is the fabric itself. She likes to “manipulate the fabric.” The process of stitching, the feel of the quilt as it progresses to a finished product, are all forces that combine to instill in her a deep love for the art form.
“Composition is very strong in her work,” said Clinkingbeard. Experienced quilters are often fascinated with her technique.
Many contemporary quilters sew by machine, said Clinkingbeard, in contrast to Seigel’s hand-stitched pieces. He said she employs “the best of both worlds. She uses traditional methods and adapts them to contemporary vision.”
Appliqué, reverse appliqué and batik are the techniques she employs most in her work. The Seigels traveled to Northern Ireland in 1995 as artists-in-residence. While there, Rebekka became interested in the art of hand embroidery.
She can often be found teaching the craft of quilting, heading workshops for adults and programs for children as artist-in-the-schools.
Seigel has competed in national quilt shows, winning three awards from the American Quilt Society’s annual competition. Her quilts are on exhibit at the Lexington Public Library through March.

• For a complete listing of fellowship recipients and to learn more about the Kentucky Arts Council, visit: http://artscouncil.ky.gov.

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