Sewing Memories

Sewing Memories

Maya Chaimovich’s quilts were not meant to warm a bed. The Israeli quilter makes exquisite art, using colored threads and fabric to create painterly, impressionistic brush strokes.

“Maya Chaimovich: Travel Log, at The Art Quilt Gallery — her 11th solo exhibition — includes 14 quilts that take viewers on Chaimoivich’s autobiographical journey. They are abstract in design, made using a free motion technique on a sewing machine, allowing for a swirled pattern. The threads and the designs she makes with their stitches are as much a part of the quilts as the diverse fabrics.

Chaimovich imbues the quilts with meaning by titling them with names like “Bride Bouquet,” all whites and pinks with hints of pastel blue and purple, reminiscent of peony petals and inspired by her daughter’s wedding. “New Day,” features a central burst of bright fuchsia, coral and red emerging from a border composed of grays, beiges and blacks.

The artist, who constructs her pieces by collecting cloth scraps at the flea market in Jaffa, loves the task of sorting and selecting recycled fragments of cotton, lace, silk, velvet and polyester. “The creation itself develops through much conflict, but gradually evolves into its final form,” she writes.

From afar or in an image on a screen the quilts could be paintings on canvas (most are 50 inches square). Up close, however, the quilts reveal their components. Instead of hanging in frames behind glass, they hang bare on walls.

Chaimovich, a mother of three and grandmother of 10, spent most of her life on Kibbutz Zikim in southern Israel, before moving to Ramat Gan where she currently lives. She began quilting in 2005, after a life-long interest in different types of art forms such as embroidery and jewelry making. These diverse practices are evident in this body of work that blends various patterns, textures and finishes.

“Maya Chaimovich: Travel Log” is on display through August 3, 2013. The Art Quilt Gallery is housed within The City Quilter shop, 133 W. 25th Street, Manhattan, fittingly located between the Garment District and the Chelsea galleries. Chaimovich will be presenting a gallery talk on July 17 at 6 p.m.

Caroline Lagnado is an arts writer in New York

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