nyquiltsmith.com – News & Views

Empire Quilters’ “Urban Inspiration” at Fashion
Institute of Technology

FIT is an imposing urban institution, six brick and limestone multistory buildings with central courtyards and a student body of extremely hip,creative young people. It is always fun to go there just for the atmosphere and to see the fashion stars of the future. Over time the neighborhood has morphed from a far west side nondescript one to a trendy destination area with restaurants and attractions of all kinds.

Empire’s show was hung in the Great Hall and over two stories, flowing into the corridors and with all the many anterooms occupied with vendors of all kinds from near and far. An auditorium was reserved for finished works of Empire Quilters for sale. With wide aisles and seating and standing spaces, it was an ideal space for the inevitable capacity crowds.

As usual, the event was well organized and staffed with guild
representatives with oversized badges available every few feet to
answer questions, direct traffic and generally to greet and be hospitable.

As expected, the two hundred quilts lived up to their promise, especially since the raffle quilt was such an acclaimed blockbuster. Every size, shape and genre was represented with nary a stray thread or lost stitch in sight. No two alike, no cookie cutters, all imaginative and original or original interpretations of classics. This is not a group of the demure and self effacing, so color, design and strong statements ruled the day. From its inception twenty plus years ago Empire has been the boot camp of quilters of renown and the new generation seems well on its way.

Little by little, and obvious in this show, machine work in applique and machine quilting is beginning to predominate in use and in recognition by judges. There is still some of the astonishing hand work of our foremothers, but less of it. As much as I pride myself on my own handwork, I absolutely congratulate the producers of the magnificent machine produced quilts. And, some of the machine applique was indistinguishable from hand work. The beading, embellishment techniques and intense quilting was remarkable. Each of the pieces was a masterpiece in its own right and I would not have wanted to judge this group … There were no losers.

It was a fun homecoming for me to see old friends and meet
new ones. From those who had already visited the Armory
show I was advised to visit it in two installments over two days.
So, I am taking their advice and will walk over to the Armory
today for a first visit and on Monday for second together
with some Empire alumnae and then finish the week with a
dinner celebration.

All of the events have professional photographers and a
photographic album of all the work will be available on the
websites of Empire Quilters and the Museum of American Folk
Art in a month or so.

What a great opportunity to refuel, recharge, and reinspire.
I am thoroughly enjoying every moment of it. Tune in tomorrow
for a report on the acclaimed red and white show at the Armory.

Catherine Smith
March 27, 2011

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