Shimmering Foliage at Fermilab

This article will appear in the Fermilab Today Science Newsletter. There is a reception this evening. If you live in the area please attend. There will be wine and cheese. I will be working and unable to attend, so you should go and drink my wine and eat my cheese Smile

New exhibit flaunts a rising art form


My Quilt Shimmering Foliage 82” x 82”

A violent particle collision ignites a heated core, spurring brilliant streams of color in every direction and unveiling the mysterious Higgs boson, as imagined by the art piece titled “The Heart of the Matter.” The story was fused and embroidered by artist Susan Jackan into an art form rising in popularity: the quilt.

“Stitched Together – Art & Science: Art Quilts by Midwestern Artists,” now in the Fermilab art gallery, is showcasing 28 quilts referencing science and nature. Themes range from endangered sea turtles to string theory. One quilt even has a matrix barcode that can be deciphered by smart phones.

Artist Laura Wasilowski channels warm memories of a prairie near her childhood home in Minnesota for her piece titled “Chicory.”

“It’s about the origins of who we are,” she said, in reference to the general motif of fundamental sciences in the quilts.

Wasilowski is an artist and representative of the Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA) (, which promotes the art quilt through education, exhibitions, publications and professional development. The show is done in partnership with the Professional Art Quilters Alliance (, a regionally-based group promoting fiber art development.

Wasilowski creates her quilts most often through an improvisational approach, starting with hand-dyed fabrics. She would then work in the direction that the shapes and colors inspire her. For a quilt like “Chicory,” she would invest at least 40 hours of work.

“The quilt is a piece of art and not for the bed,” said Frieda Anderson, a representative also from SAQA. “People are expressing their ideas on fabric in many ways.”

Anderson’s comparatively enormous nature-inspired quilt, “Shimmering Foliage,” took about four months to create.

Georgia Schwender, curator of the Fermilab art gallery, felt the quilts would find the right audience at Fermilab.

“I didn’t want to just have quilts,” said Schwender. “I wanted to tie in the artwork with the state-of-the-art science we do here.”

Stitched Together ( ) is on display now through January 20, 2012. An artist reception will take place today between 5 and 7 p.m. after a tour of Fermilab.

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