LEWISTON – A trio of textile-related exhibits will open at the Atrium Art Gallery Friday, April 17, with a free reception open to the public from 6 to 8 p.m.

In the main gallery, the exhibition “Alice Spencer — Fabricating Time: Paintings and Collected Textiles” features work by Portland artist Alice Spencer inspired by textiles from around the world. Accompanying paintings created over the past four years are textiles from her personal collection.

Spencer’s travels have taken her to Mongolia, Uzbekistan, China, Guatemala, Indonesia and other countries with strong textile traditions. She has acquired many pieces from the cultures where they were made and often from the actual maker or owner. The folk textiles include garments from simple to elaborate as well as decorative but functional items used in the home.

The pieces are often lavishly embroidered, dyed and woven by hand. The imagery in the paintings is a combination of pattern and color, which Spencer rearranges and redefines in layers that result in richly engaging surfaces.

Spencer’s career includes more than 20 solo exhibitions. Her work has been shown extensively throughout Maine, New England and New York, and has been featured in exhibitions at U.S. embassies in Chile and Bosnia Herzegovina and at the United Nations in New York. She is co-founder of Peregrine Press, a printmaking cooperative in Portland, and teaches at the Maine College of Art continuing studies program. She served on the board of the Maine College of Art and chaired the City of Portland Public Art Committee.

‘Stitches That Bind’

In the adjacent gallery, there are 40-plus works by local members of the Southern Maine Chapter of The Embroiderers’ Guild of America Inc. The exhibit includes a treasure of items: samplers, intricate geometric designs, needle cases for storing sewing accessories, beadwork, purses and more. The group of 15 members carefully selected their own work to represent many techniques in needle arts: blackwork, crazy patchwork, crewel, cutwork, Hardanger, needlepoint, beadwork, embroidery techniques of counted thread, Casalguidi, cross stitch and pulled thread.

Members who have works in the exhibit are Susan Allison, Claire Austin, Serena Dube, Barbara Hepburn, Linda Marchand, Karen Mosher, Jean Ness, Joanne Pennington, Denise Pratt, Marilyn Sames, Tanya Schwanda, Laurie Sims, Carol Thomas, Jill Snyder Wallace, and Bridget Whiting.

The title of the exhibition, “Stitches That Bind,” also makes reference to the friendships that have developed among members. There is much sharing of information and support with members helping novice needle workers. The group also does community outreach projects.

“Our needlework is not only influenced by our mothers, grandmothers and friends, but by cultures from around the world,” said member Jill Snyder Wallace. “It’s exciting to have this opportunity to share what we do.”

The group meets monthly and will meet next from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, in the Atrium Art Gallery. The group will set up in the exhibit area and invites anyone interested in needlework to attend, ask questions, bring needlework or just observe as members work on projects. Refreshments will be served. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Antique pieces

The third textile-related exhibit is in the display window of the Franco-American Collection down the hall from the Atrium Art Gallery. Featured will be antique pieces from the early 1900s on, including hand-embroidered linens, garments, and other items.

The Atrium Art Gallery is at 51 Westminster St. at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 18 and 25, May 2 and 9. Admission is free. For more information, call 753-6500.

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