By Kathryn Clark.
Quilts are having a renaissance in DesignCraft today. But we’re not talking about traditional quilts of the past. These new textiles reflect contemporary themes and offer a history lesson to future generations while teaching us a thing or two about our society today. Chicago based quilter, Sarah Nishiura, certainly spins a modern-day tale with her quilts.
Sarah comes from a legacy of deep craft. Her Japanese American grandparents who were interned during WWII, learned how to build anything and everything out of necessity. Her mother was a quilter, her great- grandfather a builder. Sarah became a successful painter, her work full of complex geometries and patterns, but she was never satisfied knowing that her paintings were simply hanging on gallery walls. They simply “preached to the converted” and lacked that tactile quality that was a part of her heritage.
Sarah missed that deep connection to the process of making that painting couldn’t offer (collective ‘mmm hmmm’ from craftspeople reading this). When Sarah started quilting, she found a tie between her love of pattern explored in painting, with a deep connection back to her maker roots.
And the contemporary story her quilts tell? Look to the materials. She recycles men’s cotton broadcloth work shirts she gathers up from thrift stores. They reflect the corporate world of today but they also hint at the disposable culture the U.S. has come to embody.
Sarah’s quilts are available online at Studio KotoKoto and Ashton Road. Some of her new quilts will be on exhibit at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago in the show “Abstracting the Seam“, opening May 12.