Quilt of the Month

December 2006

December 2006

Spiritus Mundi
Made by Michael James
Made in Somerset, Massachusetts
Dated 2000
55.5" x 61.5"
IQSC 2006.043.0009
Ardis and Robert James Collection of Antique and Contemporary Quilts

Studio art quilts appeared in the last quarter of the twentieth century as a new medium of artistic expression. Academically trained artists who previously favored paint and clay turned to fabric and quilting techniques to create visually unique pieces of textile art that covered a range of subjects, emotions, and ideas.

Michael James, a prominent studio art quilter, made the change from painter to quilter in the 1970s. "Spiritus Mundi," completed in 2000, was his 200th quilt. He explained its meaning in an interview published in "Wild by Design: Two Hundred Years of Innovation and Artistry in American Quilts" (Janet Catherine Berlo, Patricia Cox Crews, 2003):

"The imagery has to do with the landscape we carry within us, the interiors of our bodies, a whole motion-filled system; It's a little internal cosmos of which we're often completely oblivious.

My work is about investing fabric with meaning beyond the functional and the quotidian. I want people to think twice about fabric, its nature, and the possibilities for expression that it offers."