Flagler Artists: Quilting can be an art form

Quilts are on display for the month of February at the Grand Gallery in Palm Coast But these quilts are nothing like your grandmother’s quilt, says Emma Fleischer, the local artist who designed and created them.
These quilts are works of art.
“These are not bed quilts,” Fleischer told Palm Coast Magazine. “These are for the walls.”
Well, at least, most of what she currently has on display. One “traditional” quilt did make the cut for February’s show.
It is from what Fleischer calls her “transition” period in the mid-1990s when she used bright, bright primary colors – not a typical choice for a traditional bed quilt – to facilitate her transition into making art quilts.
The quilt does give a nod to traditional work with its large medallion shape in the center and nine striped wedges going out from the medallion to the edges of the quilt.
Fleischer’s first “art” quilt is in the show as well.
It is made from various white fabrics with designs of flowers and stripes on the material. Its title is, “My Soul Is White,” and the thought process prompting its design came as the result of, “a love affair that basically disappeared,” Fleischer explains.
Noting that every quilt has a story behind it, Fleischer shared that “My Soul is White” represents a time in her life when it was winter and it was cold and she was full of despair with no promise of anything new that could come about from what she was experiencing.
Yet, her life did re-blossom and the wiser woman who began quilting at age 12 with neighbors in her native Ohio began to realize that quilting was just as valid as an form of artistic expression as any other medium.
Her artist statement is: I create with fiber, clay and found things. In doing so I become centered and balanced and at one with the women before me.
Honoring women who came before her is a vital element in Fleischer’s work. She explains that only until just recently – in human history – were women allowed to express themselves in art. She points to many women who used male names to promote their work.
“Up until just lately, quilting truly was the only form of art that women could express themselves through,” Fleischer said.
Now, quilting may not be the first media the general public thinks of when considering art, she said.
She hopes to change that. Her goal is that February’s show — her first ever — will make a large step in that direction.
“I hope people who come to the show will see that this not your grandmother’s quilt. I hope they see it is an art form,” Fleischer said.
A peek at a couple of other quilts destined for the show indicate that art is on display.
One titled, “The Intergalactic Quilting Day,” is on a background of various purple shades with eight different “creatures” or “aliens” displaying the quilts “they made” to represent their home planets.
Another is a scene of women standing on each other’s shoulders creating a pyramid ladder of sorts toward a glass ceiling that the final women in the sequence is trying to break through. She used white muslin and quilt stuffing wrapped in various colored yarns to create the women. And to make the women just a bit more authentic, she used silver beads to create their breasts.
Yes, it is a statement regarding her past. She remembers having to take a man with her to buy a car so that a salesman would pay some attention to her. She recalls trouble getting a credit card in 1982 and having trouble in the mid-1990s buying a home because she was a single woman.
“I lived that,” she said. “I worked the same hours, doing the same work for lesser pay than the men around men.”
Fleischer’s mid-January plans for the show were to have 16 pieces on display. Some will be for sale; some are just for attendees to view.
She admits that she was hesitant at age 64 to have her first show. But encouragement from Jan Jackson, curator of the Grand Gallery, was enough to get her to say yes to the idea.
“I figured if she thought I was good enough to be in a show, then it must be so,” Fleischer said. “I just want to share this art form with my community.”