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Quilted Works of Art by Carole Harris Opening at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

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'Carole Harris: Bright Moments' features five decades of work by the Detroit-based fiber artist

/Carole Harris

Underwriting support from:

Meijer Free Days at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Enjoy free admission to GRAM on Tuesdays (12 - 6 pm) and Thursday nights (5 - 9 pm). Made possible by the Meijer Foundation.

The work of Detroit-based fiber artist Carole Harris will be on view at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) from March 17 to June 18, 2022, in Carole Harris: Bright Moments. The newest installment of GRAM’s Michigan Artist Series includes works spanning Harris’ prolific career, beginning with her first traditional quilt, and continuing with works that illustrate her endless experimentation with fabric, paper, and other materials. 

Working with cloth is clearly a joyful experience for Carole,” commented GRAM Assistant Curator Jennifer Wcisel. ​She loves fabric and has amassed a considerable collection of materials in her studio. She improvises as she works, layering her materials together with no preconceived ideas or plans. The works on view at GRAM in Carole Harris: Bright Moments are a collaboration between Carole and her materials — she lets the fabric guide her journey to the finished quilt.” 

Visitors to the exhibition will be introduced to the inspirations and themes that have driven Harris’ work, including architecture, music, color, and the urban environment. Cities, especially Detroit, have been a central source of influence for the artist who often photographs architectural details from which she can draw inspiration. 

Speaking about the artistic possibilities of quilt making, Harris said ​Three layers, that’s what makes a quilt — a bottom, a middle batting, and a top. Stich those three together and you’ve got a quilt. Now what you do with it after, that is where the real creativity comes in.” 

A lifelong resident of Detroit, Harris learned to embroider and sew from her mother as a young girl. After graduating from Wayne State University with a degree in interior design, Harris made her first quilt in 1968 and began to explore in-depth the artistic possibilities of fabric and thread. 

My work relies on improvisation. I am fascinated by the rhythms and energy created when I combine multiple patterns and textures,” added Harris. ​I let the material and colors lead me on a rhythmic journey.” 

The earliest quilts in the exhibition are Harris’ ​string quilts” created from strips of fabric sewn to a muslin backing then cut into squares. String quilting is a simple, freeform method that gives makers the freedom to experiment with endless combinations of color and pattern within a geometric framework. More recent works in the exhibition illustrate Harris’ transition from precise geometry to spontaneous organic forms that feature techniques such as burning and rust dyeing of fabrics. Inspired by aging buildings and well-used objects, Harris’ mixed media quilts celebrate the beauty in age, memory, and the passage of time. 

Her work brings textiles and techniques sourced from across the United States, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean together with visual strategies from modern abstract art and her own intuition and experience. Through video, images, and didactics, visitors to the exhibition will learn about Harris’ inspirations, processes, and materials. 

Related Events: 

Saturday Studio Session: Creative Quilting 
Saturday, March 26
10:30 am – 1 pm 
$35, Members receive 20% off
Join GRAM Studio to create a unique quilt that tells your story. Gain inspiration from the contemporary quilted works in Carole Harris: Bright Moments, then explore colorful textiles and fibers to hand-sew and quilt a one-of-a-kind artwork. 

Artist Talk: Bright Moments
Thursday, May 26 
6 – 8 pm 
Free
GRAM Members and the public are invited to join us during extended hours for an in-depth look at Carole Harris: Bright Moments. Artist Carole Harris and Assistant Curator Jennifer Wcisel will lead a conversation exploring the exhibition’s themes and ideas.

Lead support for the Michigan Artist Series is generously provided by the Wege Foundation and Beusse & Porter Family Foundation. Lead Exhibition Society support provided by the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation. Additional support provided by the GRAM Exhibition Society.

About the Grand Rapids Art Museum 
Connecting people through art, creativity, and design. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the art museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 6,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th-century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft. 

For museum hours and admission fees, visit ArtMuseumGR.org. 

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