About Sarah: 

  • Artist's Statement
  • Background
  • Publications

Artist's Statement

Sarah Smith

Color.  Line.  Texture.  Imagery.  Stories.  Being part of the tradition of quilting and part of the future of quilting and art. The act of creating.  Making the pictures in my head become real…. These are some of the things that spur me to create.

Artists’ statements are often so stuffy—erg!   But quilters aren’t stuffy, and most artists aren’t either when they are in the creative zone.  I want to share this passion to create and the quilts that I make, and to show people that they, too, can be creative.  Not all of us create in the same way; one friend is a much more inventive cook than I will ever be, but I can enjoy reading her e-mails about what’s for dinner---and wish I were eating her dinner instead of mine!  In much the same way, I hope that folks who love quilts will enjoy and be inspired by mine, even if they want to make something different. 

I want to make the art, and hope that people will like and respond to it.  When I read, I love good fiction.  Too much reality becomes tedious:  I like to be entertained with a story.  I hope that in some way my quilts tell stories, too.  It doesn’t matter if the story one person sees in the quilt is different from mine or another viewer’s, I just hope that folks will enjoy the quilt.

My subject matter varies.  At the moment, I am driven to portray the human body.  I find the challenge of capturing a representation of a person (or a part of them, like their hands) to be one of the hardest things I could do, and I love it when I actually get the image in my head into the cloth successfully.   I am always learning; I’ve never made a quilt from which I didn’t learn a new method (even if it was after the quilt was done, when I think…Oh!  Geez…if I had done it that way instead it would have been so much easier).   

But I loved the technicolor portrait of our family pug and think doing the cats would be fun, and am feeling a pull to return to some landscape quilts, too.  Lurking in the back of my head is the tiny seed of a larger story, to create a new place or world—perhaps infused by the fiction I read and mythologies from various cultures.  I’m hoping for time (ever elusive) to let that seed germinate and grow until it is ready to move from the dark confines of my brain and into quilts.  Inspiration is everywhere, we just need to be open to receive it and transform it into art.

As far as the actual techniques, I use whatever I need to achieve the desired effect including dyeing, painting, hand and machine quilting, embroidery, embellishment with beads, yarns, and any suitable object, piecing, and applique (hand, machine, raw-edge, fused or not...you name it!), and many more yet to be discovered and tried. I  stitch intensively on my home sewing machine with a variety of threads that would make a beginning quilter shudder at the cost!  The good news:  if you add a few at a time, you can build a lovely stash of color!

Background

As a young child, Sarah lived in Spain, Thailand and Argentina. Shortly after her sixth birthday, her family returned to the United States to live. That year a neighbor girl made an apron for Sarah's favorite doll, sparking a fascination with fiber that continues to this day. Before long, Sarah began making clothes for her dolls and trolls, then graduated to clothing for herself.

At the San Domenico School in San Anselmo, California, Sarah learned to love learning, and is grateful for the nurturing environment provided by the Dominican Sisters. It was here that Sarah seriously began to learn how to sew, and first saw someone making a quilt and knew instantly that she wanted to learn how. It was also in high school that her art teacher expressed disappointment that, when Sarah had to choose, she opted for sewing over art classes; thank you Mrs. Hoffman for that vote of confidence!

It took nearly fifteen years until Sarah found her first book on quilting. By that time, she had graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service; worked as a Legislative Assistant for a U.S. Congressman in Washington, D.C.; earned a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Mass.; volunteered in Guinea-Bissau with Operation Crossroads Africa; met her soon-to-be-husband, and became a U.S. Foreign Service Officer (diplomat). Sarah's first tour with the U.S. Foreign Service was in Toronto, Canada, where she took her first drawing classes while living across the street from the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Finally, fate picked up a thimble: while assigned to the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia, Sarah came across someone's discarded Keepsake Quilting catalog, which opened up the doors to the quilting world. Sarah hasn't looked back since--at long last, a way to marry her love of sewing with her love of art! Much later, in 2002, another set of doors opened when Sarah joined the artquilt list (www.quiltart.com), which she has called her education in the art and business of art quilting.

After returning to the States in 1991, her first son was born and, in 1997, the Smith family opted out of the rat race. Just as her husband was ready to retire and Sarah resigned from the Foreign Service to raise their family, their second son was born. From 1998 to 2004 they lived on San Juan Island, an island paradise 20 miles off the coast of Washington State. While there, Sarah began her own business doing custom sewing for the home, providing great experience in creating one-of-a-kind patterns for home decorating projects.

A quest for better schooling for the boys led the family to Camden, Maine, in 2004, where Sarah relishes the supportive environment for fiber art and art quilts. In 2011 the familly moved to next-door Hope, Maine.  Sarah considers herself most fortunate to have two wonderful sons, a husband who believes in her art and be able to do what she loves—sew and make art.

Publications

  • Conversations 1 in The Quilt Scene, a special issue from Quilting Arts Magazine, Fall 2012.
  • Designs in Art Quilts by Mary Kerr, forthcoming Spring 2013 (scheduled).
  • “Joshua” Included in  The Studio Quilt, No. 6:  The State of the Art, by Sandra Sider.
  • 100 Pretty Little Projects, Lark Books: a compilation of the best 100 projects from the "pretty little" series of books, including mine, The Elusive Batiki Bird!   And he's one of 12 projects on another cover!
  • The Best of Quilting Arts, edited by Pokey Bolton, includes my Edge Finishes articles, November 2011.
  • Point, Click, Quilt! Turn your Photos into Fabulous Fabric Art by Susan Brubaker Knapp includes Blue Buoys. 2011 C&T Publications.
  • 500 Art Quilts: An Inspiring Collection of Contemporary Work, edited by Ray Hemachandra, curated by Kery Bresenhan, Lark Books, 2010.  Includes “Koi” and “A Sense of Place.”
  • Quilting Arts Gifts issue, Holiday 2010-2011:  Art Cloth Fabric Frames, p. 122
  • The Elusive Crested Batiki Bird, a project in the Lark Books Simply Mini Quilts, 2010 (selected projects from their earlier book); on the cover again!
  • Unraveling Threadwork by Sarah Ann Smith,  2009, AQS books.  About using thread on the surface of a quilt for appliqué, free-motion and decorative stitching and quilting.
  • The Elusive Crested Batiki Bird, a project in the Lark Books Pretty Little Mini Quilts, 2010 and the cover quilt!
  • The Quilter Magazine, feature article on Sarah, September 2009 issue.
  • Machine Quilting Unlimited, guest design columnist Fall 2008 through January 2010.  Fall 2008:  article on sewing machine needles.  Winter 2008:  article on tension.  Future articles will cover quilting design for machine quilters.
  • Quilting Arts Embellishments, Issue 104 (October 2008) and ??? (December 9, 2008), the online newsletter for Quilting Arts magazine, featured a leaf-printing tutorial and a binding tutorial
  • QuiltMania (France): a large photo of Koi is featured in a long article on the AQS/Paducah show.
  • Creative Quilting With Beads by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader, Lark Books, May 2008.  Two projects included, one is used for the cover. 
  • Quilters Home one-page article, May-June 2008.
  • The Tide is Hire featured on the inside cover of the Australian Quilting Convention brochure, January 2008.
  • Quilting Arts Magazine, August and October 2007  Issues:  On the Edge.  Two articles on edge-finish treatments.
  • Quilting Arts Magazine, Winter 2006, article on The Frayed Edges, a “mini-group” of which I am a part.
  • The Journal Quilt Book by Karey Bresenhan:  five journal quilts selected, including one used on the opening of the Flowers section.
  • Fabric Trends Magazine, Summer 2005:  Under the Bali Sea pattern published featuring Princess Mirah Designs for Bali Fabrics, Inc., batiks.
  • British Patchwork and Quilting, DATE:  Lead item in quilting on the web featured my website and work.
  • I Remember Mama by Karey Bresenhan:  “Bedtime” and “Happy 80th Birthday Mama” (featured on the opening page of the 2003 section).
  • “Bijagos Warrior” featured in Janome-America sewing machine company full-page ads in national-level quilt shows, 2005.  Published in the Fall/Holiday 2004 Janome International Digest.
  • St. David’s Quilt featured in an article in Quilters’ Newsletter Magazine, December 2004.
  • Balinese Garden pattern and article published in the Summer 2004 Janome International Digest.