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
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.
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
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 award is a stamp of approval, said Lawrence. It
opens new markets and brings national prestige. There are many side
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
Quilters 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
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, Gregs, 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 Seigels 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 Societys 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.