BY LIBBY PETERSON
Sandy Hill’s quilts don’t look like your grandmother’s quilts. In fact, her art quilts may be unlike any you’ve seen before. Nearly 20 of them are on display in the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center’s Rosemary P. Miller Gallery—her first show.
Hill only recently started considering herself a fiber artist. She previously used conventional quilt-making techniques such as paper piecing and appliqué to make the more familiar checkered-style quilts. But she had grander ideas. And when the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington commissioned Hill to make a quilt for their space, she seized the opportunity to create something different.
“I just thought, there must be a better way to get what’s in my head on this quilt. How do I transform free-form shapes into quilts and override using blocks?” Hill says. “I wanted to make something that nobody had ever seen before.”
So she went for it, cutting out wild, swooping shapes from vivid blue, purple, red, orange, and yellow cotton fabric. She sewed them together, fearless of the irregular borders, and presented a quilt that swims, moves, and loops together. She called it “Synchronicity.” The Unitarian congregation loved it, and for Hill that was just the beginning.
It takes a couple of weeks for Hill to cut and sew one quilt up to 5 feet in width and length. Aside from “Synchronicity,” Hill hasn’t sold any quilts yet, but she’s received plenty of offers. After saving them for the Waldron show, she’s ready to sell. “If anyone wants these in their businesses or homes, I’ll just be so flattered,” she says.
Hill’s art quilts are often associated with nature—she has created quilts named “Fire” and “Earth”—but she says her source of inspiration is the fabric itself. “I’m inspired by the colors, the movement, and excitement that happens between them,” Hill explains. “When you put colors together, the quilt slowly evolves.”
Hill says the biggest challenge was breaking conformity and forgetting everything she’d ever learned about quilting. But the freedom of no plans, sketches, templates, or stencils is also the most exciting aspect. “It’s tremendous fun. There are no limits.”
For more information on Hill’s exhibit, visit the Waldron Arts Center’s website.