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Beacon Senior News

Every picture tells a story: Ruth Ann Feild inspires with fabric

Jul 06, 2017 10:56PM ● By Amanda Arnold

Ruth Ann Feild moved to Grand Junction from Ohio in 1982, and fell in love with the town. She enjoys the Western Slope so much that she shares its stories and history through her favorite art medium—quilting.

“I’m kind of like a quilt historian and a map cartographer. I love maps—it’s probably because I get lost a lot,” Field said with a smile.

She also loves inspiring others to learn the craft.

“I want that next generation to carry on [quilting],” Feild said. “It’s not happening as it did in the past.”

Now through August 14, Feild is teaching and inspiring locals as the Artist in Residence at Mesa County Libraries’ 970West Studio, 502 Ouray Ave. She offers workshops and hosts open studio hours throughout the summer.   

While there, Feild is working on a quilt that represents the national parks. She’s also piecing together a quilt with a map of Grand Junction, and the public is invited to initial their favorite spots in town.

“It’s such a fun space for an artist,” she said. “I’m really here to inspire and create, but I also want to teach along the way and share my expertise.”

Showing love through art

Feild’s mother and grandmother taught her how to sew when she was a child. Throughout the years, she sewed aprons, clothing and dolls. But it became more than just a hobby.

“Having four kids, I needed an outlet,” she said. “I’d put them to bed and sew until two in the morning.”

Feild didn’t start quilting until the ’80s. The craft was a perfect fit for her because it provided the freedom to stray away from patterns and create curvy lines. Her style was more traditional in the beginning, but her creativity flourished as she took home awards for her work from shows and contests.

“I started doing larger and larger pieces,” she said. “I love doing things that are commemorative or a celebration of different events in life.”

Much of Feild’s work exhibits her love for the community and can be seen throughout the Grand Valley and beyond.

She worked with the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra to collect local residents’ written memories of the Colorado National Monument on squares of fabric, which she turned into a quilt called “Monumental Memories” for the monument’s 100th anniversary. The quilt features stories from prominent community members such as Tillie and Pat Bishop, Senator Mark Udall, John McConnell and Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster, as well as students from local elementary schools.

A piece called “Footprints on the Trail” is proudly displayed behind the checkout counter at the Central Library. The quilt tells the story of pioneers and explorers of the Old Spanish Trail. Visitors who look closely can find hidden pictures of toads and footprints in the sand.

“Where Rivers Meet,” a detailed quilt of the Grand Valley as seen from the Colorado National Monument, hangs in the Mesa County Justice Center. Feild said it was a fun piece to create, as it contains signatures of justice center and City of Grand Junction employees.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet displays one of her quilts in his Washington, DC office. “Colorado, Above All,” features all of the counties in golden embroidery. All 53 of Colorado’s fourteeners are represented by tiny beads. Postcards scattered throughout the piece add character and indicate points of interest.

A close look at each of her quilts reveals another detail: her picture is hidden somewhere in each piece. In “Colorado, Above All,” for example, her picture is in one of the postcards.

Sewing outside the box

Feild incorporates a variety of fabrics and techniques in her work, including beads, thread, textiles, flower pounding and more.

A retired nurse, Feild is eager to spend her days enriching her craft, working on new projects and sharing her work and techniques with others.

“I used to work up to 16-hour days and now it’s like I have all day to sew—and night,” she said. “I feel so inspired. The fabric and thread just talk to me.”

She starts each quilt by sketching, and she takes a lot of pictures. She also loves embellishments. To add color, she will paint on the fabric or dye it. But her favorite aspect of quilting is working with the fabric itself.

“I would rather sew and manipulate fabric than do the dye. I love being able to use different fabrics and techniques,” she said.

She loves weaving a story and engaging viewers.

“The little details are hidden, and they make you want to get into the piece,” said Feild.

Explore Ruth Ann Feild’s work with the following classes:

Kids Club: No-Sew Quilts July 19, 2-4 p.m. Central Library Community Room

Grand Junction Farmers Market July 20 The Grand Junction quilt will be available for the public to initial their favorite places.

“Monumental Memories” June 27-October 2 On display at the Avalon Theatre

Ruth Ann is at the 970West Studio each Monday from 9 a.m. to noon until August 14. The public is welcome to stop by and ask questions.