Modern Art Quilts and Their Stories

Everyone has a different reason for quilting, whether that is for relaxation, to deepen his or her skill set, or to communicate a message. For quilters who wish to tell a unique story through their creations, modern art quilting offers a blank canvas for sharing one’s voice and story.

These inspiring, modern art quilts tell stories with fabric and thread, providing a unique commentary on everything from life-changing events to the common situations of each day. Unlike traditional art quilts, they utilize some of the same characteristics of modern quilting, like bold colors and prints, negative space, graphic areas of solid color and improvisational piecing.

modern quilting

Elizabeth Hartman’s finished piece Touch This Quilt is a message in response to her own quilting philosophy, that quilts should be used. Most often in quilt shows, guests are restricted from touching or looking closely at the quilts, and so this piece is an open invitation to feel and experience the patchwork. Elizabeth’s Billboard Quilt Along teaches her technique of making the patchwork letters so readers can customize their own quilt.


Luke Haynes shares this piece called American Gothic, which is part of a series in which he explores traditional American art icons through the medium of patchwork. Luke used recycled clothing and linens for the quilt base, and the life-size couple on the front is constructed using an applique technique. You can see more of Luke’s work, which marries traditional patchwork and portraiture, on display at various art exhibits and at his website.

faces quilt
Regina Alexandra’s Faces quilt collection offers a whimsical take on a variety of social situations. She says of this piece: “This quilt is a commentary on the mindless chit-chat required at many social events.” Each aspect of the quilt and her quilting has a deep meaning attached to it, she says. The dense, stitched paisley shapes of the quilting represent “flowery language swirling in the din of conversation.”

quilt still life

Thomas Knauer designed a modern art quilt called Still Life with HKPP. The image is printed on Spoonflower fabric and the piece features a self-portrait including Thomas, Cindy Brady, and the iconic Brady Bunch family grid. The story behind the quilt is artful and was inspired by the creator’s journey with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. He says, “I am most interested in weaning metaphors from my experiences, layers expressions that can be read on a multitude of levels.” 

bang quilt

Jacquie Gering made her quilt Bang You’re Dead in response to gun violence. She says, “This quilt is deeply personal and is inspired by my husband’s work. I don’t want to share the exact circumstances, but suffice it to say, my husband is acutely aware of children who are hurt and killed every day, many in gun violence. What he knows creates a sense of urgency for him as well as stress that shows on his face that never goes away.”

What’s the most inspiring story you’ve ever seen in a modern art quilt? What stories would you like to tell through your own quilting? To learn more about modern quilting, check out Bluprint’s online modern quilting classes like Improvisational Piecing, Modern Design with Jacquie Gering.

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