‘Quilting as Art’ is coming to Foster Gallery this week

The newest exhibit seeks to connect the community and UW-Eau Claire

More stories from Henry Erickson


Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

Madison Hoven, a junior communications student, helped set up the “Quilting As Art,” which opens Thursday, Feb. 8.

“Quilting as Art” is a new exhibit coming to the Foster Gallery, located in the Haas Fine Arts Center. It will feature traditional and modern quilts from UW-Eau Claire mathematics students, as well as works from local artists in the Eau Claire community.

The exhibit connects two unlikely groups —  the UW-Eau Claire Art and Design Department and the Department of Mathematics — to create art out of quilts. The gallery will display a variety of quilts, some of which are coined as art and are hung up, including one dating back to 1898.

The show merges mathematics and design to show how the two relate to the history of quilting, Amanda Bulger, the interim gallery director, said. It works to connect artwork to other disciplines on campus, she said.

Simei Tong, an associate professor of mathematics at Eau Claire, said over 20 items in the exhibit were made by her students’ class.

“We as mathematicians always say math is so beautiful,” Tong said. “The students feel like this is a good way of learning mathematics and seeing the beauty of mathematics.”

In quilt-making, one can use color to create a 3-D image and other properties found in mathematics that end up shaping how the quilt looks.

Tong teaches a course on quilt-making which starts from the design plan and ends with the making of an actual product. She said the process is a really creative way to learn and overcome challenges, and the students do it all by themselves.

“It really helps students build up patience and confidence,” Tong said. “We can find a way to inspire students to see the beauty of mathematics and apply mathematics to daily life; I’m very happy for that.”

The exhibit features traditional and modern takes on quilting. The modern take is what you get when you combine mathematics with the art of quilt making. Quilts like this technically cannot be used as blankets because they are framed as artwork on the wall.

The Eau Claire community plays a large role in helping events like these come to fruition. Over 100 quilts were submitted by local artists.

Beyond this support, Bulger said the gallery is a great way to connect both the university and the community. She said the gallery helps to bring large metropolitan areas into Eau Claire.

“It helps Eau Claire to be connected to what is culturally happening in other areas,” Bulger said.  “Eau Claire is all about the ‘power of and,’ so it really shows what happens when you combine art with mathematics.”

The Foster Gallery will begin the display of “Quilting as Art” with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8. The exhibit will be on display until March 7.