Astrid Hilger Bennett

To me, successful art works in any medium are a balance of complex forms. I juxtapose active forms with quiet, inward ones, motion with stillness. In music, the silence between notes is just as important as the notes themselves.

The imagery I employ is a pre-verbal response to the world. I feel no need to illustrate or narrate concepts that are better served through writing. I use words to convey those ideas.

I’m happiest with a brush in my hand, and art quilts allow me a large-scale, exuberant canvas. Although visually abstract, my work constantly mines the daily life experiences of family, society and the natural world.

I use only my own handpainted, monoprinted cotton fabrics in my work. I start with white cotton broadcloth fabrics, painting, monoprinting or screenprinting them with Procion MX fiber reactive dyes. My works are machine pieced and quilted, and the reverse side fabrics are painterly as well. Technical process images may be found on my website.

Trained as a printmaker at Indiana University, my interest in fiber art began in childhood, and art quilts are the natural synthesis. I’ve been lucky enough to be a guest-lecturer in fiber arts in workshops, as well as at the University of Iowa and Penland School of Crafts. I’ve continued fiber and contemporary craft arts advocacy by occasionally writing articles for major craft publications such as American Craft, Ceramics Monthly, Fiberarts and Surface. An artist networker, I am a Co-owner and marketing director of Iowa Artisans Gallery, a twenty-eight-year-old contemporary crafts gallery in Iowa City, as well as the Director of Representatives for the Surface Design Association, an international organization of artists working in surface design.

I am particularly interested in the Art and Embassies Program because I have global roots. I was born in Germany, came to the US as a toddler, and now have sons living or working in Chile and China. My grandfather was born in New York in 1986 to a German father, and later returned to Germany to live. In the mid-1800s, my great grandfather and his brothers were sent throughout the world to represent their family cutlery business- to Russia, Brazil, New York, and China. Our global village fascinates me, and through my creative work, I would gladly serve as a "cultural ambassador" to other countries.

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