Don’t miss this very special display of some of the Inspired by the Beatles quilts! To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ first visit to the United States, over one hundred fiber artists were challenged to combine their love for the British rock group and their passion for stitching to portray a Beatles song as a 24” x 24” fiber art quilt.
Curator Donna DeSoto, who heads up a large quilting bee in Fairfax, VA, announced the challenge in February 2014 to her group of over 60 members. The collection was not juried; anyone who made a quilt for the project and who got it to Donna on time was included. She did not expect the response she got. "My thought was if I got 15 quilts out of this, what a fun exhibit this could make. I had no idea how many people were still crazy about the Beatles!" The challenge soon went viral. People who had never quilted before, but love the Beatles were submitting quilts to Donna from all over the world. "I started getting calls from places as far away as Canada, Texas and Germany, people were just clamoring to get in." As the "Beatlemania" spread, the quilts just kept coming in, "I wanted to encourage anyone enthusiastic enough to want to make a Beatles quilt to do so, without worries of juries, quilt police, rules, etc."
The exhibit features 150 quilts made by fiber artists from Germany to Utah. While many techniques and materials were used by artists of varying skills and abilities (for some, this was their very first quilt), all of the artists had one thing in common: a shared desire and passion to make a quilt honoring the timeless music of the Beatles. Over 300 Beatles titles were considered by the artists and each quilt depicts a different song. Some quilts were made using the title of the song, or the lyrics quite literally. Other artists studied the meanings behind the songs, and their quilts depict deeper concepts. Some songs are easily recognized right away. Others are a bit more obscure, and encourage the viewer to revisit music by the Beatles that is less familiar.
Donna has seen many exhibits containing quilts created by people she regards as “masters” of the fiber art world. While she has had a deep admiration for these artists, she has often looked at those exhibits and felt like she could never do anything good enough for such an exhibit. Her hope for the Beatles exhibit (and for the book) is that when someone looks at these quilts, they would think, “I could do that!” Donna wants the exhibit to inspire quilters to take a chance and do something different.
Donna DeSoto commemorates these quilts in her book, Inspired by the Beatles: An Art Quilt Challenge. Accompanied by 169 images, the book provides a personal narrative from each artist. Discover the stories behind their quilts and why certain songs were chosen. Read some of the personal memories the artists have of The Beatles, and hear many descriptions and details related to the making of these unique pieces. The book is available in bookstores and online.
Quilts pictured are Back in the USSR by Priscilla Stultz, Fool on the Hill by Dolly Krach and Roll Over Beethoven by Pat Dews