Sarah’s Sea

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on June 23rd, 2021

Earlier this month, sculptor Sarah FitzSimons pulled her car into the Woodson Art Museum’s loading-dock parking lot, safely transporting the Pacific to the Midwest. The ocean, folded and wrapped in on itself, fit in the trunk, where it waited patiently to stretch and spill out across the gallery floor. Enjoy the time-lapse installation video below to watch Pacific Quilt take shape in the Museum’s lower-level gallery.

Pacific Quilt is FitzSimons’ first quilt, born of a desire to take the ocean with her as she left her home in Lisbon, Portugal, and returned to the Midwest for work. Organic and exacting, the spacious and serene layers of blue fabric, bound by tight swirls of precise stitches, represent changes in ocean depths, tides, and currents. What first appears as a stirring abstract aesthetic, is revealed to be a meticulous map of the world’s largest ocean, the vastness made viewable and intimate by the artist’s hand. My favorite detail, however, is the way one edge of the quilt splashes into and climbs up the wall, like a crashing wave, a first-time installation decision by Sarah.


Left: Sarah FitzSimons, detail, Pacific Quilt, 2018, cotton, batting, and thread

In the video below, FitzSimons describes the origins and completion of Pacific Quilt.

Both Ocean Object and Handstitched Worlds demonstrate the sophistication, skill, and distinct storytelling capabilities of quilts. Visit the Woodson Art Museum now through August 29 to witness the enduring power of quilts.

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