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Ellen Lindner, Quilt as Art
Ellen Lindner is a talented fabric collage artist and teacher, who is passionate about making art. Known for its strong contrasts and vivid colors, her work has been shown throughout the United States, and beyond, and has been published in several magazines.
Although Ellen primarily employs conventional fabrics, she also uses items like window screening and produce bags. She works in a freeform collage style, while borrowing heavily from traditional quilt making techniques.
Ellen, you taught flying at the college level. How did you segue into the quilting business?
It’s been a slow transition. I started as a hobby quilter making traditional quilts, and eventually moved fully into the world of quilts as art. When that happened, I began teaching my techniques to others. I did this for several years while continuing to instruct part-time in the classroom.
Eventually, my flying skills became rusty and I needed to think about recurrent training. At that time, I began to consider a career move away from aviation, and towards the art quilting that I loved so much. The timing was right, and I made the transition to what has been a really fun and successful endeavor.
That begs the question: how do you define success?
Success is meeting one’s goals. Since those goals vary from person to person, the definition will, as well. In my case, my art quilt goals were to make an income that matched the one I had in my aviation job, to achieve this with part-time effort, and to enjoy it. Thankfully, I’ve achieved all three.
Do you call yourself a fiber artist? I’ve seen that term used more these days.
The term fiber artist could apply, but it’s rather broad. It includes basketry, weaving, fabric design, and what I do: using fabric as my medium. I call myself a fabric collage artist. I shape and place fabric to create a composition, just like a painter places color with paint. My work typically includes the additional element of stitching, which holds everything in place, and also provides wonderful texture.
So you don’t call yourself a quilter?
It depends on my audience. People unfamiliar with quilts as art simply translate the word quilt as “bedspread.” So an art quilt (or bedspread) makes no sense to them. Therefore, I find the term fabric collage artist easier to understand. However, since I use some quilt making techniques, I do consider myself a quilter.
So, “quilt” is a noun or a verb?
We’re back to that confusing terminology, aren’t we? Quilt is both a noun and a verb. A quilt is a fabric item consisting of several layers which are secured with stitching. When that stitching is created, it’s called quilting, a verb.
What are the challenges of introducing fabric work to the public as art? Are collectors "getting it?"
The first challenge is educating the public that not all quilts are meant for the bed. Once this occurs, (usually when someone sees an art quilt for the first time,) viewers are typically very enthusiastic about the artwork. That doesn’t necessarily translate to sales, however, since art quilts are generally priced higher than other artwork of the same size. This is a reflection of the additional time involved. However, several notable collectors have now seen the light, and many art museums are clamoring for art quilt exhibits.
How do I care for a piece I buy?
Fabric collages and other types of art quilts are very easy to care for. All they need is to be dusted with a lint roller. (No machine washing and drying, please!)
I’m hooked, for more information what do you recommend?
Studio Art Quilt Associates has an excellent website at www.saqa.com. And, of course, I’d love to have your readers view more of my own pieces at www.adventurequilter.com . You may also contact Ellen through her website.