Radical Elements (SAQA Global Exhibition)

Our physical world is created out of the chemical elements, from hydrogen to platinum to arsenic. For this exhibition, each of the selected artists created a new work influenced by an element from the periodic table. Inspirations came from anything relating to that element, whether it is a play on the name, its color or the products made from it. Both representational and abstract works were welcomed.

The artists were also asked to move quilting beyond the usual materials of fabric and thread, exploring the function and decorative properties of different surfaces and stitching materials. This exhibition was the first to embrace the newly expanded definition of an art quilt and is a signature exhibition for SAQA.

Curator: Jill Rumoshosky Werner 
Managing Curator: Gigi Kandler

Exhibition Schedule

Cafritz Foundation Arts Center, Montgomery College, Silver Spring, Maryland: April 1 - May 9, 2014
National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Ave, Washington, DC: May 18, 2015 - October 19, 2015
Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, Melbourne, Florida: May 28 - August 27, 2016
International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS), McAllen, TX - September 24, 2016 through January 8, 2017

Curator's Statement

In 2001, I worked on a project in which I attempted to answer the question, “What is an art quilt?” Ten years later, I realized that the definition I had so carefully crafted was no longer accurate. In a relatively short period of time, the field of art quilting had undergone a fundamental change. The primary focus had shifted from decorating the surface of a quilted wall hanging to a much broader acceptance of ideas, styles and materials.

As an organization, Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) saw this shift occurring and recently changed their definition of art quilt to more accurately reflect the work that is being produced by its members today. The definition of art quilt is now “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.” Radical Elements happens to be the first SAQA exhibit to follow this new definition, but it actually does more than that. This exhibit pushes the definition’s limits.

The artists in Radical Elements were selected from an international pool of SAQA members who submitted their portfolios for consideration. Several additional artists were invited in order to include a broad range of styles and artist backgrounds. All forty artists were chosen because their work showed a high level of quality and creativity.

As the first part of the Radical Elements theme, each artist was asked to interpret a chemical element from the periodic table. However, there was an additional twist. The artists were asked not to use the traditional quilt-making materials of fabric and thread (or at least to use them as little as possible). In order to adhere to the new art quilt definition, they needed to find and use alternative materials that would act as the quilt’s layers, then they had to fasten the layers together by some innovative method.

Conceptually, the artists were allowed to interpret their element any way they wanted. My hope is that this exhibition will challenge and expand perceptions and possibilities for both the viewing public and for future artists. Considering how far art quilting has already come, it will be interesting to see where it goes in the next ten years and beyond.


— Jill Rumoshosky Werner

Jill Rumoshosky Werner has exhibited her artwork in museums, art centers and galleries around the U.S. and abroad and has won national and international awards. An experienced curator and writer, Werner has been awarded two fellowships from the Kansas Arts Commission.

Selected Artists

#118 On the Island of Stability - Kathy Weaver
A Pepto Bismuth Story - Barbara Schulman  
Amethyst Geode - Sandra E. Lauterbach
Arsenic and Old Lace - Tiziana Tateo
Beckoning of Night - Marian Zielinski
Blue Wing Chair - Laura Wasilowski
Cadmium - B.J. Adams
Carbon - Michele C. Leavitt
Chloros - Martha C. Hall
Chromium - Diane Melms
Cold Fire - Kathie Kerler
Cold Message - Susan Else
Cosmic Coins - Arturo Alonzo Sandoval
CU Around - Karen Jurek
Curious Curium - Pam RuBert
Element of Surprise - Mary Pal
Fleur de Soufre - Geneviève Attinger
Golden Goose - Annie Helmericks-Louder
Hay Meets Röntgen - Jim Hay
Hydrogen Jukebox - Elin Noble
Iodine - Pat Pauly
Iridium - My Darkness to Light II - Grace Harbin Wever
Last Rays - Gay E. Lasher
Lighter than Air - Wen Redmond
On a Fluorescent Night - Marialuisa Sponga Archi
Orange/Red and Fugitive Blue VI - Brooke A. Atherton
Oxygen - Suzanne Mouton Riggio
Potassium Powerhouse - Sandra Sider
Promethium - Susan Lenz
Rituals and Relics - Bernie Rowell
Samarium 62: No Relation - Mary Vaneecke
Seeking: A White Mitten in a Blizzard - Kathy York
Silicon - Dianne Firth
Sine Qua Non - Elizabeth A. Baum
The Irony Of It All Was Not Lost On Her - Trisha Hassler
The Salt Flats - Jeannie Palmer Moore
Titanium - Valya
Uranium 235 - Daren Pitts Redman
We Can See It Now - Regina V. Benson
Zinc - Cynthia St. Charles