dolls inspire Seigel's quilts
Ky., artist's exhibit headed to Iowa
Helen E. McKinney
BEDFORD, Ky. (January 2006) Like many generations
of young girls before her, Rebekka Seigel loved playing with paper dolls
while growing up in Ohio. She has transferred this fondness into a quilt
exhibit that extols the significance of 13 influential 20th century
by Don Ward
left, Trimble County Public
Library staffer Ramona Leach and quilt
artist Rebekka Seigel display a quilt that
will be traveling this spring with
Womens Work exhibit.
Seigel said the idea for such a quilt was born when I
was commissioned to do one for Phyllis George. George was the
wife of former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., and the quilt illustrated
her life in a paper doll format.
The technique of paper doll quilting is unique to Seigel. Such a quilt
features an image of its subject and contains smaller quilts attached
to the larger one with Velcro. The smaller quilts can be moved about,
thus manipulating the overall effect.
Seigel thought that telling a womans history through a garment
would be an interesting way to tell about that womans life,
she said. Seigel has gone one step farther to create a body of work
that can be rented to museums. Womens Work is a current
exhibit that has been traveling the United States for the past two years.
As to her choice of which women to include, they sort of chose
me, said Seigel. When beginning this project 6 1/2 years ago,
she didnt know which women would be included.
The exhibit has traveled through Kentucky and on to Indiana, Tennessee,
Virginia, Utah, Wisconsin and Florida. From January to March, Womens
Work will be the winter exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential
Library in West Branch, Iowa.
Womens Work is composed of pioneering women who developed
great innovations in the arts, sciences, politics, human rights and
redefined womens role in America. For her subjects, Seigel chose
such women as dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, Kentucky folk
singer Jean Ritchie and anthropologist Margaret Mead.
While Seigel had been searching the Internet for facilities interested
in womens issues, she discovered the Herbert Hoover Presidential
Library. The library became interested enough in her quilting artwork
to host an exhibit.
Seigel does work in other mediums, but she prefers to mainly concentrate
on quilting. She described her style as very figurative
and doesnt quilt traditional bed quilts. Rather, her quilts are
more expressive and artistic in form.
Her quilting technique involves hand appliqué, and she must first
envision the final outcome of the quilt on paper. She copies and transfers
images to the material, embellishing the quilt with beads and buttons.
Seigel has held many mixed shows at the Kentucky Museum of Arts and
Craft in Louisville. She has exhibited in a two-person show with her
husband, potter Greg Seigel.
Brion Clinkingbeard, deputy director and curator of the museum, said
that an interesting quality to Seigels work is her traditional
use of quilting. By combining new subject matter with old, traditional
skills, she mixes the best of the old and the new, said
The museum was founded by George and primarily displays Kentucky craftspeople,
although artists from all over the world have exhibited there. An exhibition
committee chooses which artists will display their work at the museum.
Craftspeople are brought in from outside of Kentucky from time to time
to allow the local artists the opportunity to see other works in person
and learn from other artists, said Clinkingbeard. Of all the fiber artists
in Kentucky, Seigel is one of the top artists.
For more information about Rebekka Seigels
quilts, visit her website at: www.quiltartz.com.
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