Traditional quilts utilize regular patterns and are often made for beds. Art quilts can be any size or shape and incorporate asymmetry and fine art processes such as beading, torn edges, block printing, and indigo dyeing. The pieces are created and sold as works of art to be displayed on walls.

Art Quilters of Bloomington, founded by R. J. Trubitt and Donna Marcis two years ago, is a group of a dozen women who meet monthly to critique their art quilts. “A critique is not always saying bad stuff or what should be changed,” says Trubitt. “We give each other a lot of praise and encouragement.”

Early members Joan Hershey and Kate Lenkowsky say they appreciate the constructive criticism and creative ideas shared at the get-togethers.

“We’ll bring something new or something old that we’ve changed, and we post it and let people respond to it,” notes Hershey. “That helps us make our work stronger and understand how other people view our work. We discuss color, composition, quilting techniques, and more.”

Lenkowsky is the author of Contemporary Quilt Art: An Introduction and Guide (Indiana University Press, 2008). “The goal [of the book] was to introduce people and build interest in this kind of work. For a variety of reasons, people in the fine art world do not look at quilt making as a fine art. My purpose was to present the works as art, give the history, talk about the galleries, describe how to evaluate it, and more.”

Art Quilters of Bloomington held their first show recently at Old National Bank and may hold another in the future. In the meantime, members enter their work in competitive, juried shows across the country.

“It took me a long time to call myself an artist,” says Lenkowsky. “But now I do.”