In the Studio with Karen Musgrave

Karen Musgrave

Karen Musgrave is a quiltmaker, mask maker, teacher, speaker, writer, publicist and curator who works to provide a connection between American quiltmaking and other cultures. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in many private collections. Her projects include curating an exhibition of the African American quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, alongside quilts from the Republics of Georgia, Armenia and Kazakhstan. In 2006, she organized, curated,and wrote the catalogue for an exhibition of American art quilts and Krygyz patchwork.  Since July 2008, she has lead the quilt group Las puntadas del alma at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. She served on the national board of the Alliance for American Quilts as development chair, was involved for more than ten years with its oral history project Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories and curated their highly successful quilt contest and touring exhibit Put a Roof Over Our Head. She served on the board of the Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc. and was elected to the board of the Naperville Art League in June, 2010.

Karen is donating three Fiber BONUSES to Foto/Fiber 2012.  One which includes three 1/4 yard pieces of silk made in the Soviet Union, purchased in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, and an ATC,  “Memories of Kyrgyzstan” can be seen here on Karen’s blog.

1.  How do you find/make time to be in your studio?
I have always believed that time is a created thing. We do what we think is important. I am fortunate that I no longer have to “make/find” time to be in my studio. It’s simply something I do everyday.

2.  Describe your studio in five words.

Stimulating, messy, memory-filled, packed, fun.

3.  If you could pick only one thing from your studio to represent your art practice, what would it be?  

I think it would have to be my female Buddha mask. It shows my commitment to women, my interest in other cultures, my love of texture and applique and embracing fun!

4. What is the best/worst space you have ever had as a studio? 

In the basement of my first house, on a small table between the washer and dryer. Fortunately, the one light bulb in the place was over the table! I remain amazed at much much I got done. I worked in between loads of laundry.

5.  What would make a “dream studio” for you?
A space surrounded by nature.

6.  What would you advise someone setting up a studio for the first time?

Don’t worry about having all the bells and whistles. There is no right or wrong way. Just what works for you. Play attention to how you work so you can figure out how to facilitate the best environment for you. Think zones.

7.  Any unique features/studio pets you would like to share? 

My chocolate lab Meg was the best feature in my studio for more than ten years. She loved fabric! She would dig around in my scrap bin, find a piece she liked and carry it around. When the doorbell would ring, she would run into my studio, grab a piece of fabric and give it to the person who walked in. It always made people smile. Unfortunately, she died of liver cancer. My black cat E.G. does not like her picture taken (must take after me). When she sees the camera, she runs the other way!

8.  Any new exhibits or projects we should know about?


My book, Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love, (Voyageur Press) is out.  I will be teaching at the Abruzzo School of Creative Art in Italy from August 22-29th.

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02 2012

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  1. 1

    love your new book!