Artistic fabric

Paper dolls inspire Seigel's quilts

Owenton, Ky., artist's exhibit headed to Iowa

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

BEDFORD, Ky. (January 2006) – Like many generations of young girls before her, Rebekka Seigel loved playing with paper dolls while growing up in Ohio. She has transferred this fondness into a quilt exhibit that extols the significance of 13 influential 20th century women.

Rebekka Seigel

Photo by Don Ward

From left, Trimble County Public
Library staffer Ramona Leach and quilt
artist Rebekka Seigel display a quilt that
will be traveling this spring with
“Women’s Work” exhibit.

Seigel said the idea for such a quilt was born when “I was commissioned to do one for Phyllis George.” George was the wife of former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., and the quilt illustrated her life in a paper doll format.
The technique of paper doll quilting is unique to Seigel. Such a quilt features an image of its subject and contains smaller quilts attached to the larger one with Velcro. The smaller quilts can be moved about, thus manipulating the overall effect.
Seigel thought that telling a woman’s history “through a garment would be an interesting way to tell about that woman’s life,” she said. Seigel has gone one step farther to create a body of work that can be rented to museums. “Women’s Work” is a current exhibit that has been traveling the United States for the past two years.
As to her choice of which women to include, “they sort of chose me,” said Seigel. When beginning this project 6 1/2 years ago, she didn’t know which women would be included.
The exhibit has traveled through Kentucky and on to Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, Utah, Wisconsin and Florida. From January to March, “Women’s Work” will be the winter exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa.
“Women’s Work” is composed of pioneering women who developed great innovations in the arts, sciences, politics, human rights and redefined women’s role in America. For her subjects, Seigel chose such women as dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, Kentucky folk singer Jean Ritchie and anthropologist Margaret Mead.
While Seigel had been searching the Internet for facilities interested in women’s issues, she discovered the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. The library became interested enough in her quilting artwork to host an exhibit.
Seigel does work in other mediums, but she prefers to mainly concentrate on quilting. She described her style as “very figurative” and doesn’t quilt traditional bed quilts. Rather, her quilts are more expressive and artistic in form.
Her quilting technique involves hand appliqué, and she must first envision the final outcome of the quilt on paper. She copies and transfers images to the material, embellishing the quilt with beads and buttons.
Seigel has held many mixed shows at the Kentucky Museum of Arts and Craft in Louisville. She has exhibited in a two-person show with her husband, potter Greg Seigel.
Brion Clinkingbeard, deputy director and curator of the museum, said that an interesting quality to Seigel’s work is her traditional use of quilting. By combining new subject matter with old, traditional skills, “she mixes the best of the old and the new,” said Clinkingbeard.
The museum was founded by George and primarily displays Kentucky craftspeople, although artists from all over the world have exhibited there. An exhibition committee chooses which artists will display their work at the museum.
Craftspeople are brought in from outside of Kentucky from time to time to allow the local artists the opportunity to see other works in person and learn from other artists, said Clinkingbeard. Of all the fiber artists in Kentucky, Seigel is “one of the top artists.”

• For more information about Rebekka Seigel’s quilts, visit her website at: www.quiltartz.com.

Back to January 2006 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta