At the urging of my friend Priscilla, Jim and I took a road trip today to Newnan, Ga. Selections from Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s body of work are on display there. This amazing quiltmaker’s work has always intrigued me, so we hit the road.
Our route was along backroads, as usual for us, and we included some antiquing and enjoying other parts of the day, but the purpose and highlight was studying some 43 pieces of Caryl’s work. We were almost the only ones there, photography was allowed, so we took our time. I read every word of her descriptions, studying the weight and fiber content of thread, marveling at the stitches she used and noting the color choices in each space.
Like many quiltmakers, Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry began making traditional quilts with commercial fabrics. Over the years, her style developed using her hand-dyed fabrics, then a line of commercial Gradations fabric that she designed. Some of her work is abstract, but all is full of meaning. And the girl knows her mathematics!
Some of the work was familiar to me as signature Caryl Bryer Fallert – like the feather studies, the Fibonacci series, and her dancers. Others, specifically the pictorial ones, were surprising to me that they were hers. Each piece was interesting in its own way. I learned a lot from the experience, but being able to take close up photos of the quilting designs meant that I will learn from her work over and over again.
There’s something about seeing a quilt in person that makes it worth the trip. Technology allows us to learn a lot online, to study excellent professional photos that inform us of details, and even to take classes from experts. I’m familiar with Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s work though those technologies. But the tactile nature of fabric means that any distance from a piece of fiber art diminishes the intimacy of the art form. So being close enough to touch (even though I didn’t dare) brings that back into the experience.
I’ve seen some of Caryl’s work in shows in the past, but today at my leisure, I examined a variety of her works spanning forty years of quilt making. Wow.
The Donald Nixon Center for the Performing and Visual Arts is currently “Forty Years of Light and Motion” through February 17. Their website is here if you want details. And Caryl’s website is here if you want to read more about her.
All photos are of Caryl Bryer Fallert’s work on display at the Nixon Center in Newnan, GA.