Quazy Quilters

From left, Louise Dailey, Cindy Towery, Pat Gilbert and Pat Stevens make up a portion of the Quazy Quilters, a group that meets weekly at the Lincoln Cultural Center. 

LINCOLNTON – To help revitalize downtown, city officials have focused on highlighting the local arts community, which will be on display in multiple galleries throughout the summer.

Lincoln Cultural Center

The Lincoln Cultural Center is a hub for local artists, serving as headquarters for the Arts Council of Lincoln County. Its Cochrane and Carolina Mills Galleries typically feature new exhibits each month, with a wide range of mediums on display.

“It’s All About Quilts” is currently featured in the Cultural Center galleries.

“This is our second annual quilt exhibit,” Arts Council Executive Director Deanna McGinnis said. “The quilt trail got started locally about two-and-a-half years ago, and it fell under the umbrella of the Arts Council. From there, knowing that we have several quilting groups in Lincoln County, we wanted to display their beautiful work.”

The exhibit features more than 50 quilts handcrafted by local residents, including several antique pieces that are more than 100 years old.

“As you’ll see with any quilt, there are a lot of squares that have to be combined to make the top, and there’s a lot of work involved throughout the process,” said local quilter Cindy Towery, whose work is featured in the exhibit.

“What I enjoy so much about quilting is just the creative process,” added Pat Gilbert, who like Towery is a member of the Quazy Quilters group that meets weekly at the Cultural Center.

While the traditional quilts line the walls of the Cultural Center galleries, there are also barn quilts on display as part of the exhibit.

“If you ride through the mountains, you’ll see painted pieces of wood on the barns, which are known as barn quilts,” McGinnis said.

The Arts Council will host a series of barn quilt classes throughout the summer, with the first running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at the Cultural Center. Participants will be guided through the painting of a 2x2 wooden square at a cost of $40 per person, with limited space available. The class will be offered again July 20 and Aug. 17.

“It’s All About Quilts” will remain on display throughout June following the opening reception held 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, at the Cultural Center.

Gallery 27

Liz McKay

Local artist Elizabeth McKay embellished pictures taken more than 100 years ago of children workers at textile mills near the Catawba River for her “Common Threads: Fabric Collage” exhibit.

Gallery 27 in Lincolnton is privately owned and operated by local artists.

The exhibit on display through the end of July features the work of local artists Elizabeth McKay and Stacy Pilkington-Smith.

McKay’s exhibition, “Common Threads: Fabric Collage,” explores the oppression of early textile mill workers, specifically children who staffed the mills prior to the implementation of child labor laws.

“I stumbled upon quite a few images made at the mills near the Catawba River, and what struck me first was the inordinate number of children present,” McKay said. “I couldn’t get the faces of those children out of my head, and they literally reminded me of characters from (Charles) Dickens novels.”

McKay used those images, most of which were shot by Lewis Hine between 1908-1915, to craft her project.

“What I’ve done is taken a process called cyanotype to put those images onto vintage textiles like cloth and doilies,” she said. “I then embellished the images using embroidery and bright colors to sort of juxtapose how differently those children may have been dressed had they not been laborers.”

Stacy Pilkington-Smith

Paintings in Stacy Pilkington-Smith's "The Spaces Between" exhibit were done backwards, with the background painted before the focal point of the painting. 

Pilkington-Smith’s exhibition, “The Spaces Between,” highlights “negative space,” which is the space around an object that serves as the focal point of the painting.

“Each piece begins with intuitively painting the background, and I’m always surprised by the abstracted results,” Pilkington-Smith said. “Next, I would paint the subjects or objects over the background, covering most of the magic that happens through intuitive painting. This experimentation led to exposing the background, my negative space, as newly found shapes and objects, creating a new subject matter.”

The exhibition will remain on display at Gallery 27 through the end of July. For more information, visit www.ncgallery27.com.

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