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Quilt Show week in Paducah means that certain stereotypes are flying around. If they were true, the city would be filled with blue-haired women wearing fanny packs and looking for new bed-coverings. Trust me, when I first heard why Paducah was famous, I was one of those people hurling generalizations.
It only took a year for that thought process to change.
It started with last year’s Quilt Show coverage and a trip to Caryl Bryer Fallert’s Bryerpatch Studios. Anyone who knows Caryl knows what you see when you walk in to her home/studio. The colors are brilliant, and as one of the quilters at the forefront of the art quilt movement, her patterns are completely unique. But get up close to one of her quilts and you see the intricate stitching and the beautiful hand-dyed fabric and you really get a new appreciation for the medium.
Once my interest was piqued, however, it was hard not to notice the fabric art that exists in our world. For example: The Yeiser Art Center is featuring its Fantastic Fibers exhibit through May 5. People from all over the world made art out of fibers of some kind, from telephone book pages to old jeans.
Some of those pieces are not quilts, so if you want examples of amazing artwork in the quilt world all you have to do is cross the street and visit the National Quilt Museum. It isn’t a stuffy museum of hanging bed-coverings. This month the museum is featuring quilts from the United Kingdom, a completely new take on quilts that no one else can see.
I guarantee this week you will be able to see hundreds of people with their faces within inches of fabric. Whether at the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show & Contest, or at the many locations around town, there will be people examining some of the best quilts the world has to offer. And I also guarantee that there will be people who continue to hear the world quilt and picture old women with tired patterns making blankets.
I can’t change anyone’s mind. The best I can do is to say look again. Pull out your fine-toothed comb. Put your face to the fabric and see the millions of stitches that make these quilts come alive.
Call Corianne Egan, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.