Quilt Show Offers Sew Much to See

Ohio Wesleyan alumna exhibits ‘Checkerboard Musings’

"Checkerboard Destination" (left), "Checkerboard Juggling Act" (center), and "Checkerboard Radio Waves" (right) are among the alumna-created quilts on display until September 16 at Mowry Alumni Center. (Photo by Andy Wittenberg '13)

“Her wall quilts are amazing to look at … their colors, their proportions of her design. They are each like a little jewel in their own little right. They glow from inside.”

That’s how Tammy Wallace, first assistant at the Richard M. Ross Art Museum, describes Ohio Wesleyan University alumna Lorraine Torrence’s quilts. The quilts are on display until September 16 at Mowry Alumni Center, 16 Rowland Ave. Admission is free and the center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Torrence ’63 returned to Ohio Wesleyan for the first time since her graduation last year to attend a show by her former sculpture professor, Everett “Ebb” Haycock. There Wallace, who already knew Torrence’s work, discovered that Torrence was an alumna. Wallace then pushed for her quilts to be displayed at Ohio Wesleyan.

“They show me all these windows and doorways floating in three-dimensional space rather than just small flat pieces on a wall,” Wallace says of Torrence’s quilts. “I really feel she has captured a sense of movement and joyousness.”

Torrence’s quilts vary in color and shape and often integrate checkerboard patterns because she appreciates their “strong graphic qualities.”

Torrence says she had two favorite quilts: “Checkerboard Destination” and “Checkerboard Juggling Act,” which have bodies that mirror the on-board pieces. She also favors their simple designs and beautiful, hand-dyed fabrics.

Wallace says her “very, very favorite” quilt is “Checkerboard Radio Waves” because of the resonance of the color contrast between the polka dots on a purple background.

“To me, it’s a color vibration, and I really enjoy that,” she says.

Torrence says her education helped her progress artistically.

“When I attended Ohio Wesleyan from fall of 1959 through June of 1963, OWU had a very good art faculty, and I felt I got an excellent classical art education. Of course, my education did not end there. … I went on to travel, earn an MFA in sculpture from the University of Washington, and soon after started teaching quilting, textile art, and design and have continued to do so for 40 years.”

Torrence views quilting challenges as opportunities.

“I have always been able to pursue art as I wanted to and have had the support and encouragement from both my husband and my students that has kept me learning and growing as an artist.”

She encourages aspiring artists to follow this advice: “Keep working. Keep learning more. One never improves without continuing to work, even when you don’t feel inspired.”

Torrence also cites the advice of a mentor and educator, Eric Liu.

“As … Eric Liu (said) in his book, Imagination First – ‘fail well’: embrace your failures as learning opportunities, rather than excuses to be discouraged.”

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