RIT’s University Gallery Debuts ‘Design in Fiber’ Exhibition

Pittsford artist Pat Pauly creates contemporary art quilts with bold interpretations

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Pat Pauly

Stacked Mummy Bags

“People think they are paintings,” says fiber artist Pat Pauly. “I call it painting with fabric.”

Large, bold, colorful, distinctive—Pauly’s designs resemble modern abstract works of art until the viewer stands inches away and notices the stitching on the fabric.

Pauly acknowledges fiber quilts are an exciting art form—not meant to lie at the foot of the bed, but rather to hang on the wall like an oil or watercolor painting. Eleven works created by the Pittsford textile artist are featured in an exhibition at the new University Gallery, James E. Booth Hall, on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology. “Design in Fiber” runs through Jan. 13, with an artist talk and reception scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 6.

Pauly says a fiber quilt takes about a month to complete and that she constantly improvises during the construction process—cutting, pasting and assembling hand-dyed or purchased fabric into natural forms and patterns much like a puzzle.

“Surface design is another story, more experimental,” she says. “It may consist of layer upon layer of dye, paint, stitch or fabric. The outcome reflects multiple treatments and successive touches of the brush or stamp.”

A frequent lecturer and teacher, Pauly studied in the RIT master’s level program during the early 1980s—using the principles of graphic design as a jumping-off point for her two-dimensional fiber work. Her study of letterforms, layout and other aspects of typography influenced her later contemporary quilted forms.

Pauly’s work has been featured in highly selective juried exhibitions such as Quilt National, Focus Fiber, Quilts=Art=Quilts, Creative Force and Arts Quilts Lowell. She has curated many shows of contemporary art, notably “Parallax: Views on Contemporary Quilt Artists” and “The Exquisite Corpse: Contemporary Art Quilts.”

University Gallery is located adjacent to RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies—home to the entire archive of graphic and product designs by renowned international designers Massimo and Lella Vignelli. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For information, contact University Gallery Manager Jessica Erickson at 585-475-2404 or jleugs@rit.edu.