Seigel's quilts

‘Women’s Work’ quilt exhibit
returns to Oldham History Center

Seigel’s exhibit features
13 notable 20th century women

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (January 2009) – When Rebekka Seigel realized that quilts could be an art form, she became more serious about quilting. She put 61/2 years into a project that has evolved into a highly sought after quilt exhibit circulating all over the United States since 2003.

Rebekka Seigel

Photo provided

Rebekka Seigel realized
that quilting be
an art form, and
dedicated herself to it.

“Women’s Work” is a series of 13 quilts depicting famous women of the 20th century. The series is similar to paper dolls in that smaller quilts attach to, or dress up, a larger one.
The popularity of this quilt is based on its subject matter, said Seigel, 60. “And the novelty of the idea of a quilt looking like paper dolls.”
“Women’s Work” will be on exhibit in the museum of the Oldham County History Center from January through February. Seigel, who lives in Owenton, Ky, is expected to present a talk about her quilts sometime during their showing.
This is the second time “Women’s Work” will be on exhibit at the History Center. “Women’s Work was popular,” said Nancy Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County History Center. “The quilts are unusual because of the paper doll theme. She features famous women and then creates costumes that represent important aspects of their career.”
In conjunction with this exhibit, “We are interviewing local women who were “First Achievers” in Oldham County – the first woman judge, the first African American bank teller and the first woman magistrate,” Theiss said.
Another highlight of this exhibit is featured speaker Tori Murden at noon Saturday, March 21. Among her many accomplishments, Murden was the first person to row across the Atlantic. A reception will follow the speech in her honor.
Seigel uses hand appliqué and hand quilting in her work which is “rare in this day and age,” she said. Reverse appliqué and batik are techniques she frequently uses.
“Each quilt is a history lesson,” Seigel said. Young and old both enjoy her work. Children often learn something about these women and how a quilt is put together, while some older people are often already familiar with the subject matter.
“My grandmother was my first inspiration” when it came to quilting, said Seigel, originally from Cincinnati. Her grandmother’s traditional quilts were beautiful, but didn’t allow Seigel the freedom to express herself artistically.
Seigel has done so by creating her own paper doll technique, which differs from the traditional quilting method. She said she was amazed to have been able to complete the series in six and a half years.
She said it is rewarding to have created this body of art work and feels she has “made a statement about women and their contributions.”
Seigel said she may add a 14th quilt to the series in the future. Based on Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments, she is “becoming quilt-worthy,” said Seigel.
Any time she creates a quilt, Seigel focuses on color choices, layout and design. Her mind is working on creating the best quilt she can make. The result is often beautiful, meaningful and artistic in its own right.
Her work has appeared in shows such as Quilt National and The American Quilt Society’s annual competition, in which she has won awards three times. Seigel represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the first great American Quilt Competition. This competition was designed to honor the centennial of the Statue of Liberty.
In 2000, Seigel was chosen by the governor of Kentucky to create 11 prizes given for the Governor’s Awards. Her work is contained in many private collections and in the collection of the Evansville Museum of Art and Science in Evansville, Ind.
Seigel’s work has taken her across country. In 1995, she traveled to Northern Ireland, where she was an artist-in-residence. She gives many lectures, teaches classes and conducts workshops.
Following the exhibit’s run at the Oldham County History Center, “Women’s Work” may travel to the National Women’s Museum in Seneca Falls, N.Y. It seemed appropriate to display the quilts in an area where women’s suffrage was strong, said Seigel.

• For more information, on Rebekka Seigel’s work, visit: www.quiltartz.com. For more information on the exhibit, contact the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.

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