Sandoval Signpost
An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Featured Artist
 

Jo Anne Fredrikson

Jo Anne Fredrikson in her studio
Photo credit: —Oli Robbins

c. Jo Anne Fredrikson

Brits Gone Moderne, 63” x 76”

c. Jo Anne Fredrikson

Jemez Vista, 33” x 26”

c. Jo Anne Fredrikson

Shawl Dancer, 50” x 56”

c. Jo Anne Fredrikson

Masquerade Magic, 63” x 72”

Signpost Featured Artist

The marvelous quilts of Jo Anne Fredrikson

—Oli Robbins

The art of quilting has held a prominent position in our country since its inception. One of the artforms historically associated with women, quilting continues to combine form and function. In previous centuries, sewing, spinning, and weaving were necessary to clothe and warm one’s family, while providing an artistic outlet for the artist/crafter. But like so many artistic mediums that traverse the utilitarian and aesthetic realms (woodwork and ceramics come to mind), quilting has often had to fight harder for a seat at the fine art table, often finding itself relegated to the traditionally “lower” arena of crafts. This means less museum shows devoted to quilts, and a scanty representation at galleries across the country and internationally. Placitas quilter Jo Anne Fredrikson worries for the future of the medium, and looks forward to seeing more quilts featured and celebrated in fine art venues.

In some ways, Jo Anne has been immersed in the fiber arts since childhood. Says Jo Anne, “I started sewing at age nine, designing doll clothes with my mother’s fabric scraps on her motorized treadle machine.” She continued to nurture her predilection for sewing through high school and as a young mother, making nearly all of her daughters’ clothing for a period of time. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that she took a course on quilting, which became a hobby that she would begin to devote more and more time to in the coming years.

She professes to have benefitted immensely from the Placitas artist community, through which she finds herself inspired and sometimes awestruck. Silk painter and batik artist Judith Roderick, for example, has become a mentor of sorts to Jo Anne. “She’s so generous with her time and her spirit. Her idea is to ‘just try it!’ So that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Even today, you’ll be hard-pressed to hear Jo Anne refer to herself as an artist or quilter. “I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself an artist because the people here are so talented.” She finds great joy in quilting, but it doesn’t define her. “I’m an educator and a journalist,” says Jo Anne, “but I love to sew and I’ve always loved to sew.”

Jo Anne spent many of her working years teaching journalism at the high school level, eventually getting a Master’s in Telecommunication. Toward the end of her career she became a principal at a Rio Rancho elementary school. Finally, in retirement, Jo Anne expanded her relationship with quilting by becoming involved with the American Quilter’s Society, through which she took classes. “Some of those people have changed the way I quilt,” says Jo Anne. For five years she was a board member who was also responsible for creating the guild’s programs and recruiting people to instruct workshops in New Mexico.

Jo Anne has lived in New Mexico for 45 years and in Placitas for the last 22. When she first moved to the state, she found herself frequenting every art show she could find, “marveling at how things were done.” Says Jo Anne, “the stories of the artists really got me.” New Mexico brought Jo Anne’s appreciation for art to a higher level, and she began acquiring work that spoke to her. When she first started attending quilting workshops and building her knowledge of the medium, Jo Anne was focusing primarily on piecing and tended to produce quilts that bared similar arrangements. Today she works with more complicated compositions that usually involve an abundance of movement and color. “Every quilt I do, I learn a little bit more about color.” She notices that in the thirty years she’s been “playing with quilting,” both quilters and the fabric they work with have undergone significant changes. Says Jo Anne, “More people are taking risks, collaborating, and joining.”

Usually Jo Anne is attracted to an interesting pattern, design, or fabric—which she collects locally and during her travels. She enjoys adorning her quilts with embellishments, which she regards as the “fun playwork” part—easier than the sewing process, which can prove difficult.

The American Quilter’s Society has selected Jo Anne as a semifinalist for the 2016 AQS QuiltWeek (in Phoenix this month—see below). Jo Anne’s quilt Magical Masquerade will be exhibited alongside more than 150 other quilts created by artists from 36 states and eight countries. The show expects to draw over 15,000 spectators, suggesting the strides that quilters are making, as their work becomes widely admired and accepted as fine art. In the words of AQS founder and president Meredith Schroeder, “Quilts are no longer meant just for beds. Today’s quilt makers create artwork using vivid colors, a variety of materials—from traditional designs to paint, ink, and dyed—and stitch them by hand, home sewing machines, and the large longarm machines. You need to see these works of art.”

Jo Anne’s work can be seen at a number of upcoming events:

  • February 11-14, American Quilter’s Society show, Phoenix Convention Center
  • March 1-31, Placitas Quilters Exhibit, Placitas Community Library (in celebration of National Quilting Month); reception on March 11, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Jo Anne will be joined by fellow quilters Kathryn Weil, Maris Mason, Rod Daniel, Jim Carnevale, Judith Roderick, and Ginny Davis.
  • April 1-2, Colors of the Southwest: Exploring Fiber Arts Through the Color of Our Exquisite Southwest, The Albuquerque Fiber Arts Council, Albuquerque Garden Center
  • May 7-8, Placitas Studio Tour

Jo Anne welcomes you to visit her and her work at the above-mentioned shows or in her studio by appointment. She can be reached at 867-0405 and rrpswriter@aol.com.

 
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