Circular Abstractions: Bull's Eye Quilts

The current exhibition in our Cantilever Gallery features 32 quilts that build upon or break down the traditional bull’s eye pattern, resulting in something new and uniquely expressive.

Guest Curator Nancy Crow challenged the 32 participating artists to create a design based upon the bull’s eye pattern: four circles in the style of a target symbol, set in a grid of four blocks, or quadrants. Artists responded to the invitation by deconstructing and rebuilding the bull’s eye into new compositions. The result is a strikingly complex body of images, with each piece conveying its own distinct voice.

Many of the artists maintain the quadrants, with circles that vary from the rigidly geometric to wildly organic. For others, the circles break their boundaries, shift in scale, or even come to dominate the entire piece. This variety is a celebration of creativity and visual experimentation.

For the viewer, it is an invitation to experience the many possibilities of color and shape, and to evaluate the success of each artist in transforming the simple bull’s eye into something more.

Abstraction defines both the visual and conceptual content of these quilts. Combinations of colors and shapes call to mind familiar imagery, establishing a rapport with the viewer. The use of color and pattern establishes emotional cues, with visual rhythm the dominant component, from gentle undulations and carefully regimented beats to frantic, jagged explosions.

The inherent physicality of these pieces, their material and craft, enriches not just the visual design, but the conceptual content as well. The act of building a quilt is a perfect expression of reconstructing a given form into something new. Just as the artist is breaking apart and re-assembling the components of a bull’s eye, so too is the face of the quilt being constructed by piecing together smaller fragments of fabric into a single new design.

Circular Abstractions: Bull’s Eye Quilts is a celebration of design and the skill of the artist. Speaking through the fundamental tools of artmaking — pattern, color, design, composition, rhythm, value, and movement — these pieces communicate a host of impressions and narratives.

For the viewer, it is a remarkable display not only of improvisation and expression, but of artists continuing the tradition of pushing the boundaries of their medium and demonstrating a mastery of their craft.

Circular Abstractions: Bull’s Eye Quilts was organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art in Muskegon, Michigan with Guest Curator, Nancy Crow. Travel is sponsored in part by Bayer Crop Science.

This exhibition is made possible by the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and through the generosity of our members and donors.