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Wilton Historical Society Opening Show Of Acclaimed Quilts

Denyse Schmidt, who makes her quilts in a historic factory in Bridgeport, will have a display of her work shown at the Wilton Historical Society.
Denyse Schmidt, who makes her quilts in a historic factory in Bridgeport, will have a display of her work shown at the Wilton Historical Society. Photo Credit: Contributed

WILTON, Conn. -- Critically acclaimed quilt designer Denyse Schmidt, who works out of a historic factory in Bridgeport, will be showing off nearly a dozen of her masterpieces in a show opening Thursday at the Wilton Historical Society.

"Denyse Schmidt: In The Making, Historic Inspirations/New Quilts" opens at the Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Road , on Thursday, March 19, with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

Schmidt's creations are modern interpretations of classic quilt designs – contemporary, functional textile art with deep historic roots.

“A quilt is art, a quilt is history, and a quilt is a tactile, shared experience on many levels. Like folk music and tales passed down orally, quilts are graphic representations of stories and ideas that have emerged over the years in endless variations. Handed down from generation to generation, evolving slightly each time, the quilting patterns are themselves a living, breathing entity,” says Schmidt as she describes the deep appeal of quilts.

“I’ve always loved juxtaposing old and new, and by creating quilts, I could combine – and share – my lifelong love of textiles and design.”

She was drawn to the simple charm of antique quilts, their unexpected color combinations, and the way a single block pattern can lead to an infinite number of variations.

Her quilts, with their quirky style and fearless use of color, are fresh and unexpected interpretations of traditional patterns such as Rail Fence, Lafayette Orange Peel, Ocean Waves, Mariner’s Compass, Streak of Lightning, Wagon Wheel, Snake Trail, and Churn Dash. Many resemble abstract collage paintings, and all share their maker’s unselfconscious directness.

Her passion for using the quilt as a springboard for contemporary design has led her on some interesting journeys. Schmidt collaborated with the Japanese department store Takishamaya, creating a small number of quilts carefully made with antique Japanese kimonos.

She was selected to be part of the Philip Johnson Glass House Commissions Program, designing a quilt in a modernist style inspired by the components of house and site.

Schmidt has been designing and making quilts since 1996 when she established Denyse Schmidt Quilts. A former graphic designer and a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, she has generated international attention for her modern spin on classic quilts.

In a historic factory building in Bridgeport, the Denyse Schmidt Quilt Studio produces three quilt collections, available from retailers nationwide. Learn more about Denyse Schmidt at www.dsquilts.com .

The show will run through Saturday, Oct. 3.

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