Sunday, December 15, 2013

A visit with a Quilt Artist

On Thursday, three knitting friends and I headed to Atlanta for an overnight trip. The timing in December was to see the work of Karen Reese Tunnell at the South East Fiber Arts Alliance office and exhibit space.

Karen's work was nothing less than mind blowing.  I had visited her website ( and seen photos in her gallery, but I was not prepared for the impact of the pieces when seen in real life. The subtle dimension of quilted texture and the vividness of her marbled backgrounds just don't come across in a photo, and I really couldn't understand the "applique" element she described when talking about her work on her website.

I forgot my camera but my friends shared photos with me so I could write my blog post. Some of these pieces may be on her website, but I wanted to have my own closeups so I can share some of the details here.

Karen has a series of tree trunks in these shades of blue and green on similarly colored marbled backgrounds.

This is just a small section of a very long (over 7 feet) narrow (1.5 feet) framed piece.

I cropped a bit here so you can see in closeup that the trees, enhanced with paint, are appliqued on her background. Embroidery adds another layer. The entire piece is machine quilted on a sturdy layer of felt and it floats above the linen ground of the frame.

Karen explained that she does not want us to actually be able to see a difference between the original marbled piece and what was appliqued to it.  With the trees, up close you can tell, but in many examples, she has invisibly hand appliqued marbled texture on marbled texture, and the lines just blend together.

This quilt show a different style. Karen was a painter before she was a fiber artist.

This closeup shows some of the detail of the painted bird. 

Karen's painted babies were beautiful.  (These next three photos came to me in a small size so there is no close up view.)

Here's a photo of me with Karen in front of one of her many strikingly beautiful works. Doesn't that look like the fabric is tucked or pleated?  It's not.

After listening to Karen talk about her work and her processes, and the classes she teaches (she's coming back to Asheville next fall) she invited us to her Mid-Town condo where we enjoyed the view from the roof of the building.

Cheryl, Karen Tunnel, Cindy and Susie. Judi is the photographer.

 It was cold up there, but we had a great time and left inspired.

I'll have more photos from the Atlanta trip in a couple of future posts.

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