People and Portraits – A Sequel That Surpasses the Original



Well, OK, Art Quilt Portfolio: Peoples & Portraits isn’t a sequel like the ongoing saga of a blockbuster movie.  However it is the second, following The Natural World, of a series of books about art quilts with both books being authored by Martha Sielman, Executive Director of Studio Art Quilt Associates. The topic is, as with the first, self-evident.

Safe in Suburbia

Safe in Suburbia by Lori Lupe Pelish

There was a lot to like about The Natural World (my review here), but in this new volume Sielman has really developed the perfect format for a portfolio book.  I read it all in one sitting and found myself wishing it were longer.

The book is divided into thematic chapters:  Happiness, Contemplation, Community, Icons, Family and Friends, Work, and Play.  Within each chapter there are three featured artists and then a gallery of artwork about the theme.  There are more than 100 artists featured in the galleries.


John by Margene Gloria May

Each of the 21 featured artists has a short and perceptive introduction by Sielman and then the artists “talk” about their work in a series of brief essays. Sielman’s steady hand is shown in the editing of these essays. Each artist comes alive as she writes about her artistic journey, her inspirations, her personal symbolism, her sources of inspiration, and more.   Each artist also writes about the process of one of  her featured artworks.  More than once (you have heard this refrain before), I longed for even just ONE detail shot that would clarify something the artist had said about their process.


Tango by Colette Berends

Having said that, I much preferred it when the artist focused on their inspiration and purpose in making art, rather than the technical details.  That’s why I read this book straight through.  What could be more interesting than hearing artists “talk” about their work in a meaningful way with plenty of artwork interspersed?

There are a few featured artists (Cheryl Dineen Ferrin, Leni Wiener, Mary Pal, Lura Schwarz Schmidt, and Kathy Nida) who have been favs of mine for a long time, but it is always great to see and read about unfamiliar artists. All the featured artists have singular voices and definite points of view and you can’t ask for more than that in a portfolio book.


George by Pat Pauly

Art Quilt Portfolio:  People & Portraits is published by Lark Books and available through the usual vendors and SAQA.  It is 192 pages and retails for $24.95.  All photos courtesy of the publisher; artwork on book cover by Lora Rocke.

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05 2013

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