Carole Harris: Bright Moments

Mar 17, 2022 — Jun 18, 2022
Level 1 Galleries

Three layers, that’s what makes a quilt – a bottom, a middle batting, and a top. You stich those three together and you’ve got a quilt,” says Detroit textile artist, Carole Harris. Now what you do with it after, that is where the real creativity comes in.”

Artist Carole Harris builds upon traditional quilt making techniques to create innovative, freeform works of textile art. A lifelong resident of Detroit, Harris received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University in 1966 and soon after made her first quilt, The Wedding Quilt (1969). After creating this traditional quilt, Harris began to experiment and truly explore the artistic possibilities of fabric and thread. My work relies on improvisation,” Harris says, I am fascinated by the rhythms and energy created when I combine multiple patterns and textures. I let the material and colors lead me on a rhythmic journey.” Now in retirement from her career as an interior designer, Harris dedicates herself full-time to making art. 

Harris’ Michigan Artist Series exhibition presents works spanning the artist’s prolific career, beginning with her first quilt, and continuing with works that illustrate her endless experimentation with fabric, paper, and other materials. Visitors will be introduced to the inspirations and themes that have driven Harris’ work, including architecture, music, color, and the urban environment. Cities, especially Detroit, have been a great source of inspiration for the artist who often photographs architectural details from which she can draw inspiration. Harris’s cityscape” quilts convey the forms as well as the energy and rhythm of the city through her use of exuberant colors, contrasting textures, and unpredictable patterns.

More recent works in the exhibition demonstrate Harris’ transition from precise geometry to spontaneous organic forms that feature techniques such as burning and rust dying of fabrics. Inspired by aging buildings and well-used objects, Harris’ mixed media quilts celebrate the beauty in age, memory, and the passage of time. I want to capture the patina of color softened by time, as well as feature the nicks, scratches, scars, and other marks left by nature or humans on constructed and natural surfaces.” These quilts feature holes and burn marks that reveal the assembled layers below their surfaces. 

Through video, images, and didactics, visitors to the exhibition will learn about Harris’ inspirations, processes, and materials. Harris uses commercially printed cottons, silks, and vintage fabrics which she often alters by overdying or painting. Her recent investigations have led her to incorporate found objects, paper, and collage. Watching video of her working in her studio, it is clear the creative process is joyful for Harris. Surrounded by stacks of colorful materials, Harris cuts, pieces, and stitches, intuitively abutting shapes and patterns into dazzling compositions. 

Exhibition Support

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:

  • Wege Foundation
  • Beusse & Porter Family Foundation
  • James and Mary Nelson
  • brightly
  • Ken Betz and Pat Brewer
  • Robert W. Daverman, AIA / Grand Rapids Community Foundation
  • Haworth, Inc.
  • Dirk and June Hoffius
  • Jeffery Roberts Design

Additional funding provided by the GRAM Exhibition Society.

Lead Exhibition Society Sponsor

Installation Photography