From the Inside Out

Emmy entering the installation “From the Inside Out.”

Ever since I can remember, my little sister Heather has been sewing. (This really isn’t true, since I remember when she was born.)  Using the fabric scraps from my mom’s projects, she would sew little blankets for her dolls, and small presents for our parents. Now that she’s an aunt, she sews little bags for Lily and Emmy. The bags arrive filled with gifts; books and ribbons and stickers; all the wonderful trinkets little girls love. So it was no surprise to me to see Heather sewing scraps of fabric together every time I saw her this winter. But I was surprised to see what she made those tiny scraps of fabric into.

 Lily and Emmy’s bookbags, which arrived with surprises inside

I received a postcard in the mail a few weeks ago; Heather was collaborating with her good friend Nicholas Nyland and her students at Bradley University to create a special installation and exhibition. This was an art opening I couldn’t miss, so I packed the girls in the van and headed to Peoria.

 View from the balcony above

When we arrived, we found a wall in the shape of a spiral extending from the inside to the outside, draped with quilted fabrics of all colors and textures; there was a doorway and peepholes and little creatures hiding in the patterns. Lily was excited to spot the same fabric that her sister’s bookbag was made out of in this huge, quilted piece. At first, I told the girls DON’T TOUCH! Heather reassured me and said when they were creating this installation, she imagined the girls running around and playing in the exhibition. They played for the whole two hours of the opening, touching, exploring, laughing, twirling, and taking breaks to eat cookies. (Yes, art openings usually include food!)

Lily and Emmy run to find their aunt’s hand coming through a peephole.

Heather was quoted in the local paper:

“While this exhibition is not about the history of quilting, there is a tradition of saving things that can be used, and that’s part of what we’re doing here,” Brammeier said. “We usually think of fabric as a feminine material and part of the feminine arts. This is not going to be limited that way. It’s not going to be a feminist piece. But it is going to incorporate those qualities where we think of fabric as comforting.”

Just one section of the quilted wall

If you are in the Peoria area, and would like to see this exhibition, click here for more information: From the Inside Out.

Hurray for kid-friendly art!

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11 Replies to “From the Inside Out”

  1. What a fun art exhibit! I need to start sewing again, so when I have nieces and nephews I can send them homemade book bags with goodies inside! How fun!

  2. What a great time the girls had. You must be very proud of your sister.Do you know that my very first airplane ride was to/from Peoria, I can't remember for sure. My parents either picked me up or dropped me off to babysit for my cousins baby while her and her husband attended the school. Of course I flew into O'Hare.

  3. Wow! This looks wonderful! Would your sister be interested in sharing about this installation on my blog?? Basically I'll post whatever she wants to share about herself & her artwork. She can reach me at artsnark (at) verizon (dot) net

  4. Wow, that's so neat! Your sister sounds like the best aunt! I love that she takes the time to make special keepsakes for everyone…

  5. That is a beautiful idea for extra fabric! I wish I could sew- I have been saving old T-shirts for years in hopes of making them into a quilt one day….for now, they are stuffed under my bed at my parents' house. The exhibit looks like a lot of fun:)

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