Art Quilts and Wood-Turned Objects on View this Winter

By: Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum on December 4th, 2017

Wausau, Wisconsin: Vibrant art quilts and strikingly elegant, contemporary turned-wood objects comprise two new exhibitions on view this winter at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

television quilt-show celebrity, area woodturners, and snow sculptors demonstrate their work during varied winter programs for all ages at the Woodson Art Museum. 

An eclectic array of designs, materials, and techniques are woven throughout art quilts depicting animals, both real and fantastical in “Wild Fabrications,” organized by Studio Art Quilt Associates in Hebron, Connecticut. “Explorations in Wood: Selections from The Center for Art in Wood” features enigmatic turned-wood objects from the collection of Philadelphia’s Center for Art in Wood. Both exhibitions remain on view through February 25, 2018. A whimsical, large-scale glass sculpture also is on view by artist Ricky Bernstein.

Wrapped Up in Quilts

“Wild Fabrications,” comprising more than three dozen vibrant art quilts, introduces new generations to a dynamic art form and celebrates the time-tested ways that quilts stitch us together, fostering family and community connections.

To depict animals featured in “Wild Fabrications” – from  fanciful zebras, rhinos, and giraffes to penguins, foxes, and cats – artists transformed materials and incorporated colors and textures to depict scales, skin, feathers, and fur. One artist’s mythical bat wears Elton-John-inspired red eyeglasses. Other subjects include ancient sea creatures, long-necked cats, long-legged birds, and carp windsocks stitched from Japanese indigo fabrics. Some artists incorporate images of endangered animals such as whooping cranes and polar bears into their work; another portrays a polka-dotted dodo.

Quilter and television personality Mary Fons offers workshops, a trunk show, and discusses her work and the role of the quilt in American popular culture, January 19-21, during this winter’s varied lineup of Museum programs. The co-host of “Love of Quilting” on public television alongside her mother, Marianne Fons, Mary Fons is a passionate, vibrant speaker on the subject of quilts.

Warm thoughts of comfort and the loved ones who stitched and labored to sew treasured family heirlooms are all wrapped up in our favorite quilts. What’s a common thread of their appeal? Quilters and fiber arts enthusiasts share a desire to hone the skills necessary to carry on a tradition that links generations and an appreciation of the creativity and ingenuity woven throughout extraordinary quilts.

What distinguishes museum-quality art quilts from those made for warmth during cold winter months? Art quilts are a maker’s original exploration of material resulting in a unique artwork, while traditional quilts often rely on patterns handed down through generations and often are sewn for utilitarian purposes.

Using fabric as their medium, artists skillfully work with textiles – often hand painted, dyed, or printed – in imaginative ways and incorporate unexpected materials – from glass stones, beads, chenille thread, and embroidery floss to zippers, buttons, sequins, and tulle.

Turning Attention to Wood

The organic qualities of wood, our ability to manipulate its shape, its abundance, and its renewable potential are among the reasons wood permeates our culture – including the art world. Artists who work in wood put tools to timber, creating vessels and objects of stunning beauty. They turn and spin at the lathe, carving and smoothing while shavings pile up.

More than seventy objects comprising “Explorations in Wood” highlight the diversity and unlimited potential of wood via this sampling from the collection of Philadelphia’s Center for Art in Wood, gathered over a thirty-year period. These works stem from a love of materials and display a rich variety of wood types and processes, including wood-turned vessels, as well as carved and constructed forms.

Woodson Art Museum curator Andy McGivern selected the “Explorations in Wood” artworks based on design and form; variety and handling also were criteria. Many celebrate the natural beauty of wood, evident in rich warm-brown tones and assorted grain patterns, typical of materials gathered around the globe. Others – after maximizing the manipulative qualities of wood – feature paint used to highlight an object’s form. Gain insights during Art 101: Discerning Selections, gallery walks with McGivern on Thursday, December 7, 5:30-6:30 p.m., and Wednesday, December 20, 12:15-1 p.m.

“Behind the Lathe: Selections by Wisconsin Valley Woodturners,” also on view at the Museum this winter, represents a cross section of the fine woodturning being created in central Wisconsin. Some club members’ work on view will be available for purchase at the Museum’s Visitor Services desk.

Wisconsin Valley Woodturners demonstrate and discuss woodturning techniques, answer questions, and invite participants to try their hand at the lathe during Art 101/Hands-on Art: Lathe Demonstration, Thursday, January 4, 5:30-7 p.m., and during Art Park Open Studio, Saturday, January 6, 1-3 p.m.

Quilty Pleasures: Mary Fons Residency

Friday, January 19 – Sunday, January 21

Quilter, designer, writer, and television personality Mary Fons shares her love of quilt design and history during workshops and programs, Friday, January 19 – Sunday, January 21. Mary Fons is co-host with her mother, Marianne Fons, of public television’s “Love of Quilting.” Join Mary as she shares her work, discusses the role of the quilt in American culture, and teaches hands-on workshops for quilt enthusiasts.

During The Great American Quilt Revival, Friday, January 19, 5:30-6:30 p.m., quilter and writer Mary Fons discusses the roots of the Great American Quilt Revival beginning with a 1971 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition to the phenomenon of Gee’s Bend quilts and the Modern Quilt Guild movement.

Two quilting workshops and a presentation will be offered on Saturday, January 20:

  • Make-a-Block Workshop: Paper-Pieced Log Cabins, 9 a.m.-Noon. – Mary Fons guides participants as they create a block using the Paper-Pieced Log Cabin pattern. Call the Museum at 715-845-7010 to register for this workshop designed for any level of quilter; additional information provided upon registration; Fee: $35 members; $50 non-members.
  • No-Fear Partial Seams Workshop: Sweetpea Star Block, 1-4 p.m. – Mary Fons leads this class designed for intermediate quilters. If you’ve ever shied away from partial seams, now is the time to embrace them and include shapes in your patchwork that cannot be achieved any other way. Call the Museum at 715-845-7010 to register; additional information provided upon registration. Fee: $35 members; $50 non-members.
  • You Call That a Quilt? America’s Amazing Quilt Styles, 4:30-5:30 p.m. – Mary Fons explains America’s four major quilt styles – Traditional, Studio Art, Contemporary, and Modern – and the history of how each developed.

On Sunday, January 21, during Trunk Show with Mary Fons, 10 a.m.-Noon, see quilts made by Mary Fons, who also will offer books available for purchase.

Snow Sculpture: Cool Creations

January 27-28, Saturday & Sunday, Noon-5 p.m.

In contrast with the warmth of animal-themed quilts and wood artworks on view, Team USA Snow Sculptors – Mike Martino, Tom Queoff, and Mike Sponholtz – carve a sculpture from winter’s white stuff, representing their 28th year creating snow-sculpture at the Woodson Art Museum. Click this link to see a preliminary sketch of 2018 Snow Sculpture plan.

Student Art Exhibition

February 24 – March 31, 2018

Explore artworks by north central Wisconsin students in grades 9-12 via the 41st Student Art Exhibition. See the exhibition and congratulate the student artists on opening day, Saturday, February 24, 2018, Noon-2 p.m. Each March, the nation promotes art education by focusing on student work. Art teachers are encouraged to submit student works in various mediums for the Museum’s Student Art Exhibition. 

For details about an array of Museum programs for all ages this winter, check the online events calendar.

Also on view from the Museum’s collection

Passionate Pursuits: Birds in Our Landscapes – on view through February 18, 2018

Avian marvels that live in and pass through Midwest cities, rural landscapes, and backyard feeders connect us with nature. They are alluring to watch, sing melodiously, and balance our ecosystem. Whether perched atop a tree, taking a turn at the nest, or foraging for food, birds provide unlimited inspiration for creative artistry. Click on or link to the exhibition webpage image gallery Passionate Pursuits: Birds in Our Landscapes to see low-resolution versions of images of artwork

Conservation in Action: Owen J. Gromme’s Winning Federal Duck Stamp – on view through February 18, 2018

Complementing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2017 Federal Duck Stamp Contest – held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, September 15-16 – this exhibition at the Woodson Art Museum comprises preparatory drawings, finished watercolor, presentation print, sheet of stamps, and memorabilia related to Gromme’s 1945 winning artwork, Three Shovelers. Click on or link to the exhibition webpage image gallery Conservation in Action: Owen J. Gromme’s Winning Federal Duck Stamp to see low-resolution versions of images of artwork

Fowl Play: Decorative Duck Decoys – on view through August 19, 2018

Duck decoys long have been used to lure waterfowl. Typically made of wood, these life-sized sculptures range from simple bird shapes to intricately carved and finely painted examples. Some are strictly utilitarian; others are sculptural works of art. Click on or link to the exhibition webpage Fowl Play: Decorative Cuck Decoys image gallery to see low-resolution versions of images of artwork

On the Wing: Birds in Flight – on view through August 19, 2018

Discover the beauty of birds as they flee from predators, mate, and search for food. More than seventy paintings, works on paper, and sculptures depict birds soaring, skimming, flapping, and gliding. Click on or link to the exhibition webpage On the Wing: Birds in Flight  image gallery to see low-resolution versions of images of artwork

For more information, visit, e-mail the Museum at, call 715-845-7010, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


For more information about the Woodson Art Museum, check the events calendar at, e-mail the Museum at, call 715-845-7010, and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Woodson Art Museum Hours
Tues–Fri 9am–4pm
First Thurs of each month 9am–7:30pm
Thursdays during Birds in Art 9am–7:30pm
Sat–Sun Noon–5pm
Closed Mon & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas

Admission: Always Free Admission
Phone: 715.845.7010
Location: 700 N. 12th Street (Franklin & 12th Streets), Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007

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