PLEASE NOTE OUR HOLIDAY HOURS: CMA will be closed on 11/23, 11/24, 12/24, 12/25, 12/26 and 1/01/24.
The Canton Museum of Art (CMA) is one of Ohio’s premier museums for an exceptional visual arts experience. CMA is recognized for powerful exhibitions focused on American art, its influences and themes that allow everyone to connect with creativity and cultural heritage. The Museum’s diverse education programs serve thousands of students and adults of all ages. CMA’s acclaimed Collection focuses on American works on paper, primarily watercolors, and ceramics. Founded in 1935, CMA is a cultural destination for the city and region, with community events and programs making the inspiration of art accessible to all — serving nearly 45,000 participants annually.
Quilt National 2023: The Best of Contemporary Quilts:
The Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio presents Quilt National ’23, some of the best contemporary fine art quilts from around the world. For over 40 years, this show has consistently displayed new forms of experimentation and development in fabric art, extending the definition of the ‘quilt.’
Quilt National ‘23 was juried by Dr. Carolyn L. Mazloomi, Chiaki Dosho, and Irene L. Roderick. The jury selected 81 quilts out of 673 submissions to showcase in this year’s 45th Quilt National Exhibition. Quilt National ‘23 excitingly brings 43 returning artists and 38 artists that have never exhibited in previous Quilt Nationals. CMA is excited to present collections A & C from the 2023 selections.
In the late 1970s Athens, Ohio, was home to numerous talented artists. Included among this group were Nancy Crow, Françoise Barnes and Virginia Randles. These and other area artists were using fabric to create works that were pieced, layered, stitched and stuffed. These works were “quilts” by virtue of their structure, although they were intended to be viewed on a vertical plane. The original designs and use of innovative techniques and color combinations made them unacceptable to the organizers of traditional quilt shows who were most interested in beautifully crafted bed covers with recognizable patterns. The only exhibit opportunities for these artists were in mixed media fiber shows alongside baskets and weavings. Crow and Barnes recognized the need for an appropriate showcase for what are now known as “art quilts.” They were just two of a dedicated group of volunteers who decided to organize an exhibit devoted entirely to this relatively new breed of contemporary quilt. Fortunately, this need coincided with the efforts of area artists and art lovers to preserve an abandoned dairy barn.
The barn was built in 1914 as part of a farm complex situated on grounds belonging to the state-owned mental health facility, the barn had served as part of the activities therapy program. Artists and others in the Athens community felt that the barn had the potential for a second life. Quilt National was intended to demonstrate the transformations taking place in the world of quilting. Its purpose was then, and still is, to carry the definition of quilting far beyond its traditional parameters and to promote quiltmaking as what it always has been — an art form. The works in a Quilt National exhibit display a reverence for the lessons taught by the makers of the heritage quilts.
Many of the works hold fast to the traditional methods of piecing and patching. At the same time, however, the Quilt National artist is intrigued by the challenge of expanding the boundaries of traditional quiltmaking by utilizing the newest materials and technologies. These innovative works generate strong emotional responses in the viewer while at the same time fulfilling the creative need of the artist to make a totally individual statement.
Without A Net: Quilted Sculptures by Susan Else:
Raised in a family of artists, Susan Else never planned to be an artist. It wasn’t until she was about 40 years old that she realized she had become an artist by accident. Susan treats cloth not as a flat surface but as a wild flexible skin for three-dimensional objects. Her work has developed in tandem with the art quilt movement, but she is one of the few artists making figurative sculpture in this medium. Her exhibition Without A Net incorporates sound, light, and motors. She uses cloth to create an alternate universe, and the resulting work is full of contradictions: it is whimsical, edgy, mundane, surreal, and engaging, all at once. Each piece tells a story, but the narrative is always open to interpretation. The power and beauty of the patterned cloth surface play off the form and content of the work, and the result is a dynamic seesaw of meanings and possibilities.
Susan started this work in 1998, when she added 3D elements to a flat art quilt and discovered a new way to tell stories that she didn’t have access to as a flat quilter. She has exhibited in Quilt National twice, in 2005 and 2009 with her works “Bingo!” and “Nothing to Fear”. She has shown her work both nationally and internationally and her work is in both public and private collections.
“Against all sense and practicality, I have made a career creating sculpture from collaged and quilted cloth. A little over ten years ago, I upped the ante, adding kinetic elements to the three-dimensional work. This meant working with a fourth dimension- time. My work merges divergent images and conflicting human responses. Where better to explore these contradictions than in the old-fashioned circus and sideshow? The circus has always been a fantasy where real life lurked. Though its most unsettling qualities have been omitted from modern, performance based “cirques”, they live on in our imaginations and visual memories. Welcome to my circus!” - Susan Else
Stitched Together: A Visual Patchwork from the CMA Collection:
In conjunction with Quilt National 2023, the Canton Museum of Art presents Stitched Together: A Visual Patchwork from the CMA Collection, a salon style display of works from our Permanent Collection in similar fashion to a quilt, telling stories that relate to quilting and its rich history.
The art of quilting spans several centuries and continents. Initially created out of necessity for their ability to provide warmth through repurposed fabrics, over time, quilts became much more decorative and personal, exemplifying impressive artistry and storytelling. Through their unique designs, many quilts use symbols and images to represent something which, when combined, tell an overarching story which the viewer must decode. Quilts have also been used to commemorate special occasions, celebrate heritage, express activist messages, share compelling stories, and share beautiful designs or patterns. As a result of the stories they share, quilts become a relic of the maker’s life, and are weaved into the fabric of American history. Just as with other art forms, quilts have been influenced by the culture, events, and environment of the times in which they were created. The beauty of storytelling through quilting is that every piece and stitch matters, and every quilt is indeed a sum of its parts, not unlike life itself.
Just as each patch in a quilt is stitched together with care to form a single blanket, each artwork in this exhibition will be “stitched” together salon style to fill entire walls from floor to ceiling. As one piece of the overall puzzle, each work helps tell an overarching story based on themes traditionally found in the storytelling of quilts. The various themes in Stitched Together pay homage to the history of quilting, and the stories conveyed by the makers. The themes are drawn from some important aspects of quiltmaking, including family and community, shapes and patterns, and storytelling.
Stitched Together will combine works of various colors, patterns, and mediums into a patchwork design that celebrates and commemorates the history of quiltmaking using stories within the collection. This exhibit will give viewers a chance to view works from the collection in a brand new way, allowing for a visually unique storytelling experience, and paying homage to an art form that is rooted in American history and tradition, passed down from generation to generation.
A New Deal: Artists of the WPA from the CMA Collection:
A New Deal: Artists of the WPA from the CMA Collection highlights the artists who were employed by the Works Progress Administration during one of the most challenging periods in American history.
In early 1934 the Great Depression was looming, and unemployment was close to 25 percent. In response, the United States government, under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established The Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935 to provide employment to the unemployed and to stimulate economic growth.
As part of the WPA, the Federal Art Project (FAP) was launched to fund the creation of art and support artists, though there was pushback since artists were perceived as not having “jobs” to lose. Ironically, it was an artist, George Biddle, who proposed that the government set up a program to support mural painting, leading to the creation of the FAP.
To recruit artists for the FAP, advertisements were placed in newspapers around the country. People lined up in the cold outside of government offices to apply, a process that involved proving they were professional artists and passing a needs test. If they passed, they were placed into categories that determined their salaries; a small wage for their work which allowed them to support themselves and their families during a time of economic hardship.
The FAP employed thousands of artists in a variety of fields, including painting, sculpture, graphic design, and theater, and research and documentation of artwork. The FAP also supported art education and outreach, including traveling exhibitions and art programs for children. There were no government-mandated requirements about the subject of the art or its style; the expectation was that the art would relate to the times and reflect the place in which it was created. Many works during this time featured social commentary on the hardships of the Great Depression, although many were more focused on portraying patriotism and nostalgia for a simpler, happier time. Throughout hundreds of public buildings, artists depicted Regionalism, or idealistic images of rural America, memorializing routine activities for the average American citizen. Some of the successes of WPA programs were also depicted, including industrial triumphs such as the construction of dams, the expansion of the electrical power grid across the country, and advances in agriculture.
In total, the WPA produced 2,566 murals, more than 100,000 paintings, about 17,700 sculptures, nearly 300,000 fine prints, with a total federal investment of about $35,000,000. It was the WPA that supported artists such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock before their careers took off. The WPA and FAP were terminated in 1943 due to the cost of the program amidst the improving economy. This exhibit focuses on artists from CMA’s collection who worked for the WPA — the projects they worked on, the subjects they were interested in, and how their own lives were affected by the Depression.