Artistry in needlework

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Jeanne-Marie Robinson’s appliqué design quilts, featuring landscapes and whimsical animals, are on view at Maine Fiberworks gallery

TOPSHAM — Jeanne-Marie Robinson transferred her skills of artistry, discipline, teaching and creativity from her career as a ballet dancer to her passion for quilting.

Beginning as a traditional quilter using traditional patterns, she quickly began using her original designs in art quilts, exhibiting widely in quilt shows and art galleries in Maine and Florida.

Maine Fiberarts is displaying her creative appliqué design quilts in the “Animal Appliqué: Quilts by Jeanne-Marie Robinson” exhibit showing through April 30.

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A reception, open to the public, from 2 to 5 p.m. on April 17 will celebrate the artist’s life.

Robinson, who died just weeks prior to this solo retrospective, hailed from Northport and was a well-respected and renown member of the Friendship Sampler Quilters of Belfast and the statewide Art Quilts Maine.

Robinson’s Swiss and French heritage and background in drawing, painting and collage enriched her quilting.

With her expertise in needle-turn appliqué compositions, an extension of her earlier works in collage, she found her niche in art quilting. The rich and complex surfaces of her work exhibit a delightful sense of color and design.

Her themes are often landscapes and whimsical animals, both revealing her mastery of hand needlework — such as quilting, embroidery and appliqué — and her use of beading, found objects and other embellishments.

Her landscapes are raw-edge/tulle pieces with meticulous detail. Her animal pieces are hand appliquéd and filled with humor, something unexpected — a little gecko looking out at the viewer, a frog peeking out from under a leaf. Her creatures, whether images of animals drawn by her daughter, Maya, or from her own vivid imagination, are infused with life.

Robinson is known for her participation in quilt “challenges,” a quilter’s opportunity to compete with others, often for prizes, to create an original artistic work in fabric. She was excited to participate, whether the contest was hosted by a local quilt shop or offered through the world-renowned annual Hoffman Challenge. Due to one Hoffman Challenge acceptance, her work is still traveling through exhibitions in the United States and in Canada.

Robinson was the first to hold the title Quilter of the Year, a distinction bestowed in 2003 by fellow quilters in Maine.

Exhibitions at the Maine Fiberarts Center/Gallery at 13 Main St. change every two months and are open to the public weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information or to preview Robinson’s work, visit www.mainefiberarts.org or call 721-0678.

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