I am posting my experiences at the recent European Patchwork Meeting, held in a series of four small towns in the Alsace region of France. The town of Saint Marie-aux-Mines, the main venue, had many places to find quilts:
The poster above links to the numbers in the map. Once we left the L’Espace Commercial, we walked across the street to the Theater, where two sets of quilts curated by two different women provided a study in contrasts.
One set of quilts, by collector Mary Koval, was exhibited on the ground floor of a beautifully restored old theater, which you can just see from around the edges of some of my photos. This set of quilts were all American antique quilts.
The other woman (from France) is Lea Stansal, who mounted a one-woman exhibit titled La Broderie d’embellissement, which can be roughly translated to The Embroidery of Embellishment. Her biographical statement from her blog (which I used Google Translate to read) says:
“Trained at Met Penningen’s Higher School of Decorative Arts and Interior Architecture. After twenty years in the world of fashion as a textile designer, Léa Stansal decides to explore and deepen more traditional aspects such as patchwork and embroidery.
“Since then, with a thread and a needle, she has created a poetic and original work, which is widely exhibited in the world and has given rise to the publication of half a dozen books of art.”
None of these are titled, and it flattens them out to put them on this digital medium; I wish you could have seen them in person. They were wild and embroidered and free and filled with a happiness of creativity. I think if I could spend 10 minutes in her studio, I’d break all those Rules of Quilting that I carry around inside me.
I kept thinking about how the Pied Piper had charmed all the little tin soldiers. Was this a statement about war? About peace? I’ll never know, but I’m still thinking about it.
Detail from above. The layers! The collage! The broderie perse! I kept sighing.
I love how the deer and its antlers are in this piece, but not in the static, overused version we see in America. Shall we turn some quilts on their heads?
My husband, who loves symmetry in all its forms kept sighing, too, as he admitted that this just wasn’t his type of quilting. Mine, neither, but I kept admiring that freedom to create, a freedom that was a delicious anarchy of cloth and threads.
We headed downstairs to Mary Koval’s antique quilts, in an exhibit titled “Piece by piece, our life with quilts.”
I had carefully included the identifying titles in my photos, but back home, found I couldn’t read them most of them. The quilts range from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.
Pickle Dish quilt, from the 1920s.
I liked the juxtaposition of these two–the orange-clad guard and the riotous early-American quilt.
I liked the embroidery detail on this little Uncle Sam. a quilt from the 1920s.
One of my favorites of the antiques because of its exuberance. The name “Rev. and Mrs. (?) S. Harvey” is on the first line, with “Park Methodist Episcopal Church” on the second. “Circle No. 5 1937” on the third line.
Made from silks.
We weren’t allowed to touch the quilts (of course!) so I held my hand up to show how tiny those triangles are. This quilt is from Berks County, Pennsylvania, but I don’t have a date.
I’m sure all these quilts are from their new book. Info can be found on their website.
Now we were hungry, so we found this little “cafe” in the back of the theater, with fabulously dressed servers.
Although the flowers were pretty tired, I loved the attempt at patchwork on the vase, with bits of cloth glued to the glass.
And this, folks, was the traditional Alsace salad with bretzel (with a “b”). My husband ordered this, but I went mainstream with the ham sandwich (below). They were doing an active business, so we hurried and ate and went back out hunting quilts.
Note: this series about the European Patchwork Meeting has a main page, with a listing of posts.
7 thoughts on “A Study in Opposities: Lea Stansal and Mary Koval”
What a perfect exhibit!!! I thoroughly enjoyed the pieces by Ms. Stansal – such delightful compositions. And those “antique” American quilts which are about as modern as you can get, right?!! Thanks for this wonderful travelogue.
Every aspect of this trip was enlightening, I suspect!
Thank you for sharing, what a treat!
Amazing pieces of work. Those dimensional “quilts” were quite something and the detail incredible. The vintage quilts were fabulous too. I’ve always wanted to make a pickle dish!
I admire the creative spirit of artists who can make from such a free place like the 3-D quilts you shared. Not my style but I often wish I knew how to think that way.
Thank you for allowing us to visit with you. I love the way you share the things you notice, both in the quilt designs and techniques, and beyond the quilts themselves, to details like the decorated drinking glass and the juxtaposition of the quilt and the guard.