I’m sure you, like most everyone reading this, have had the pleasure of cuddling up in a deliciously cozy, pleasantly warm, and colorful quilt that may have gotten passed down through your family. Or Target—whatever. While completely practical and often sentimental, quilts also have a long and deep-rooted history like many art forms.
You can trace the art of quilting back to ancient Egyptian times, with evidence discovered in Asia in late BC.
While initially used for practical purposes, it was long before quilting became an art form in itself. Every quilt also tells a story, which may or may not be intentional, and stitches reveal secrets and stories that otherwise would have gotten lost in the shuffle that is life. Today we’re showcasing five of the top quilters on Instagram that you need to follow, and to witness how they bring ideas and stories to life through the fabric is utterly fascinating.
Bisa Butler | @bisabutler
One of the things that make Bisa Butler’s work so fascinating is the fact that, at first glance, your eyes might not even realize what you’re viewing is fabric. The details and colors are so intricately stitched that, initially, her work looks like a painting. Yet, once criticized for her work not “fitting in” and not being the “typical” portrait art nor the “traditional” quilting art, that observation is precisely what makes Bisa’s work so distinct and awe-inducing. Her work transforms photographs into quilts through hundreds and even thousands of pieces of fabric which can take endless hours to complete. Not only does Bisa have an inspiring Instagram account, but you can also follow her on TikTok.
Alyson Vega | @alyfiberartist
At first glance at her Instagram account, it’s clear that Alyson Vega has both a creative mind and spirit. After receiving a BA in Japanese Folklore and Mythology from Harvard University, she taught for 22 years before discovering a benign brain tumor that ended her teaching career. Instead of letting that knock her down, it took her on a creative path of picking up her childhood quilting and sewing passion. Throughout her Instagram feed, you’ll find works that often explore feelings; for example, one of her recent posts is titled “An Acute Feeling That Something Isn’t Right” and another titled “Welcome Old Friend.” She often uses soft, muted, and earthy tones; her work is snuggle-worthy, metaphorically, of course.
Michael C. Thorpe | @iversonsdurag
Michael C. Thorpe’s Instagram feed is like a personified folk song known for its street style. Does that even make sense? If not, look at his feed, and you’ll instantly understand. Michael’s work makes a statement, from exploring what it means to be a biracial man in America to poetic projects featuring American iconography like classic PBR cans. The artist’s works are vibrantly bold, and the images and intentions behind the art jump off of each canvas in a way that makes you feel like you are a component of each piece. Fascinatingly enough, his mother taught him the craft of quilting, proving the generational love of the art of quilting.
Beverly Y. Smith | @quiltbev
To feel connected to her Southern roots and ancestors, Beverly Y. Smith expresses herself through her quilts. Her collage-inspired pieces are colorful, layered, and full of inspirational figures. Her process is impressive in that she uses renderings from live models and photographs based on people and then transforms them into quilts. Often, her work focuses on themes from the South that speak to taboos and controversies and Southern expressions. Her feed is a beautiful compilation of her quilts, and a behind-the-scenes peek into the process. One of my favorite series that she created is titled “Rite of Passage,” and it focuses on ceremonial events marking a critical stage in someone’s life. This series was inspired by the pandemic shutting down these celebrations and moments in everyone’s lives. Scrolling through Beverly’s feed will leave you feeling both nostalgic and warmly welcomed into the depths of her thoughts and feelings.
Martha Clippinger | @marthaclippinger
If modern art and quilting combined, they’d make up Martha Clippinger’s Instagram feed. Known for her quilting pieces that rhythmically arrange colors, textures, and shapes, Martha’s quilts smudge the line between high-brow art and practicality. Yet, there’s something about how she blends colors to create lovely patterns. She has had recent solo exhibitions at Elizabeth Harris Gallery in NYC, at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, at Institute 193 in Lexington, KY, Hodges Taylor in Charlotte, SECCA in Winston-Salem, and The Columbus Museum in her hometown of Columbus, Georgia. Martha’s feed is genuinely a corner of the internet that sits at the intersection
between the past and the present in a beautifully textured way.