Paducah's National Quilt Museum has mounted two new exhibits in as many weeks, bringing Danny Amazonas's "Freehand Patchwork" collection along with a retrospective of Victoria Findaly Wolfe's work to the institution's walls.

Amazonas's work is, to quote museum executive director Frank Bennett, "absolutely astounding."

Cobbled together out of thousands of scraps of fabric to create complex collages, his quilts can often feel like optical illusions. Some of the quilts are actually better seen through a phone or a camera.

"All these pieces put together, it's like a big puzzle. It would be absurd if it was just a painting, but it's not," Bennett said. "It's a game with how light works -- he's working within the difference between how your eyes and a camera process light."

Visitors to the museum have been nothing but impressed, calling it things like "fantastic" and "mindboggling."

Shirley Forsberg of Portland, Oregon, was absolutely floored by Amazonas's light work on pieces like "Smile," which recreates a section of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa."

"It blows your mind," said Forsberg, a beginning quilter herself. "Quilting is such an art form. Most people think of it as a craft and don't give it the value that it has."

The Amazonas Exhibit, which opened on July 12, runs through Oct. 15.

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The other newly installed exhibit, "Play With Purpose," serves as a review of Wolfe's career as "one of today's most important modern quilt artists."

Serving as the centerpieces of the exhibit is "A Garden For All Seasons," a gigantic 9-by-30-foot piece that took eight museum employees to hang.

Originally conceived as a public quilt to decorate a renovated bank near her New York home, the design incorporates scraps of different material to create a massive hexagonal floral pattern.

The title of the exhibit refers to Wolfe's affinity for playing with found fabrics and scraps to create original, unrelated works in both the modern artistic sense and the traditional pattern school of quilting.

The Wolfe retrospective, put up on June 28, will remain on display through Oct. 8.

The National Quilt Museum, located in downtown Paducah, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

For more information about the museum or upcoming exhibits, visit www.quiltmuseum.org.

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