Imagine a sea of colorful quilts, lovingly stitched together from across the country and across generations and painstakingly hung throughout an historic house of worship. That’s what visitors will enjoy at the tenth anniversary of A Quilt Exhibit: Fabrics & Fabrications to be held March 2 and 3 at the Southport Congregational Church.
What started out as a modest quilting exhibit in 2002 grew to this year’s much-anticipated event. It will showcase the handiwork of more than 160 local artisans, as well as quilts submitted by folks who have uncovered keepsakes and fine quilts from collectors.
“It’s very exciting to know that what began as a small project now draws nearly 800 visitors,” says Reverend Sharon Blackburn, event cochair with Susan Kunkel, who explains that this year’s event will honor its founders Judy Reynolds and Cecily Zerega, both of Fairfield.
Cecily, a local artist, RISD graduate and prolific quilter, curates the collection with a keen eye and makes sure that each piece is hung with precision for the ultimate effect. She is also a founder of the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival, where her quilts have been the raffle prize for close to thirty years.
“It is amazing to see the colors and patterns each year,” Cecily explains of the quilts, which preserve personal stories and become heirlooms for beds and as wall hangings and pillows for collectors. “The exhibit never looks the same. Some of the quilts may be made in early 2012 or 2011, and some much earlier. One year we had a Civil War–era quilt.”
Some of the pieces are made by highly skilled quilters, others are made by beginners. Each year the committee puts out a call for entries and weaves together the diverse collection that comes in. The quilts travel from far-flung locations across the country.
The event is also a fundraiser. Proceeds are donated to accredited, nonprofit agencies that serve women and children. “Over the past nine years, we’ve raised more than $200,000 for our designated charities: Emerge, Inc., Connecticut Make-A-Wish and Project Learn,” says Susan. Church’s Bee Attitudes Guild is even creating three unique quilts to be donated to each of the charities.
This year the event is going green with a special exhibit entitled Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice! “Early quilters were conscientious in their use of materials on hand to create bedcovers for comfort and warmth. While their concerns were primarily economic, today’s recycling focuses on preserving our natural resources,” explains Reverend Blackburn. “Our efforts are good not only for the environment, but also for the soul…The exhibit will give visitors an opportunity to marvel at the imagination of artists and innovators in transforming objects into new forms for practical use and for pure enjoyment. Perhaps it will also serve to inspire some creative recycling on all our parts.”