Storytelling, art history and an artist’s viewpoint (as a woman connected to quilt makers of the past) intermingle in Betsy Bauman’s works. A quilt artist and chair of Hiram College’s Theatre Arts Department, Bauman composed a collection of her pieces based on both abstract and figural traditional patterns. This compilation, “Fabrications: Traditional Quilts in a Modern World,” will go on exhibit from Sept. 9 to Oct. 6. at Hiram College’s Gelbke Art Gallery, 12000 Winrock Road. Presented by the Hiram College Art Department, the show commences with a reception from 5-7 p.m., including an artist’s talk at 6 p.m.
Bauman says her love of fabric, drama and history led her to the theatre and a career as a costume designer. She brings her knowledge of fashion history and sewing construction together with her sense of color, line and shape to help the actors tell a story that will express something universal about what it means to be human. These are the same things that draw her to working as a quilt artist.
“I am inspired by the history and tradition of quilting, and I collect antique quilts to study and to enjoy. This respect for the past is the springboard for the quilts I make. Although I use the same basic structure as quilters from the past, I am not trying to decorate a bed or provide warmth, but rather I seek to tell a story or express an idea,” says Bauman. “My quilts are playful and whimsical, and I think viewers will see my theatrical background in them, as well.”
Bauman was on sabbatical this past spring, studying textiles and quilt history and creating new work.
“I am drawn to the medium of fabric. I love the tactile qualities, the way light is reflected, the range of colors and textures available. Fabric is essential to human life; it surrounds us from birth through death, and appeals to our senses of sight and touch. Even when we are not touching it, symbolically it feels warm and inviting,” she says.
Bauman began making quilts in 2000, and since then her quilts have been juried into national exhibitions such as the American Quilter’s Society shows at Paducah, Lancaster, and Grand Rapids, Quilt Odyssey in Hershey, Pa., as well as shows in Vermont and Indiana, and locally at Lake Farm Park, the Rocky River Reflections of Nature Shows and Mutton Hill in Akron. She also lectures on quilt history and other quilt-related topics.
Bauman began teaching at Hiram in 1998. She holds an M.F.A. in Design from Kent State University, an M.A. in Theatre from The University of Akron, and a B.A. in Theatre from SUNY Brockport.