Figure-ground reversal is a fundamental aspect of two-dimensional design. When areas of light and dark values interlock in a manner that is visually balanced they create a dynamic tension, or “push-pull,” that is both pleasing and compelling to the eye.
Traditional and studio quilters alike make use of figure-ground reversal in their compositions. Quilts in Visual Systems that employ this type of organization include two of the Log Cabin quilts, Barn Raising and Chimney and Cornerstones. The light and dark areas of these designs are equally balanced and clearly defined. The checkerboard in Mary Anne Jordan’s Crossing Flag is another example of a pattern with a strong push-pull, as is the Amish crib quilt in the Bars pattern. The dynamically interlocking shapes in Michael James’ Suspended Animation utilize the tension between foreground and background in conjunction with subtle color progressions.
Click images below to view larger and read more information about some of the quilts included in the exhibit.