It may be an odd occurrence for Miami, home to so much political strife in the recent past, but an inordinately large gathering of piecemakers will take place this weekend. Notice that's piece. Not peace. Piece as in squares of colorful fabric. As in quilts. And quiltmakers. Banded together. Strong. United. Wielding needles and thread. The momentous occasion: QuiltFest 2001, an annual celebration of everything under the sun related to quilting.
Sponsored by the City of Coral Gables and the local Ocean Waves chapter of the National Quilting Association, founded in January 1985, Miami-Dade County's largest exhibition ever will present more than 400 examples of quilts. Not some sort of disorganized blanket sale, the event also boasts a theme, "A Bridge Between the 20th and the 21st Centuries," aiming to explore Florida quilts of the past and the future state of the art.
There's no question quilts have changed drastically over the years, shrugging off their countrified, Little House on the Prairie reputation. No longer just a series of swatches stitched together to sometimes mind-boggling optical effect, modern works can look like impressionist paintings à la Claude Monet, action paintings à la Jackson Pollock, and even cubist works à la Pablo Picasso. Ferocious animals, jungle scenes, underwater views, and Southwestern desert vistas also have been rendered in fabric.
More than just typical blankets will be on display. Antique and contemporary designs, as well as clothing, wall hangings, dolls, and tiny versions of quilts are promised. Add to that traveling exhibitions; an auction of lap quilts, dolls, vests, and baby quilts; sales of antique and new quilts, and anything having to do with quilting; and a wall-hanging contest, where makers follow strict instructions. (This year participants are limited to using two unembellished fabrics.) Got more quilts than you can handle? Tote your items from home and an appraiser will evaluate them. Among the invited guests: artist/author Kim Ritter, Florida quilter Marilyn Harrison, and heavy hitter among the quilterati Carol Taylor. All in all with so much activity, you might be tempted to stay home and crawl under your own blanket.
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