Quilts at the Schneider Museum of Art

Kristin Hoppe's quilts are not your typical grandmother's quilts. Her quilts are true works of art.

From geometric designs to a patchwork piece she calls "The Beer Quilt," Hoppe's work blends the precision of sewing with eye-popping elements of abstract "pop art." Her pieces are on display at the Schneider Museum of Art through Sept. 12.

"I've always loved fabrics and I've always loved to sew," Hoppe said. "That's why I chose this."

Her 20-piece exhibit is part of a larger display of quilt and print-work from artists around the country. It is also a team effort. Hoppe stitches the top layer, choosing the fabric and creating the design. To finish the job, she sends her work to Jo Lynn O'Neil, a quilter in Texas, who attaches the top and bottom pieces.

"I do the sewing and she does the quilting," Hoppe said. "It's a collaborative effort."

The designs, however, are entirely her own.

Hoppe retired to Ashland with her husband in 1998. She came to town that year with art on her mind.

A constant in her work is the use of strong, contrasting colors — bright reds over subtle blues, met with splashes of rainbow-like color. She gives partial credit for this to the four years she and her husband spent living in the African nation of Cote d'Ivoire.

"In Africa they use incredible colors," she said.

Fabric weaving is a common trade in West African countries. The hand-woven strips of fabric there are bright and often multi-colored. Hoppe says her time in Africa offered inspiration to make more her own art more vibrant.

"A lot of my color sense I got in Africa" she said. But then she added, "I've always loved color."

After leaving Africa, the couple settled down in Ashland. But a guest bedroom in her new home, quickly converted to an art studio, ensured Hoppe kept busy.

"When we came out here I knew that's what I wanted to spend my time on," she said of her art. "It was the first time I had a room where I could just make a total mess, leave it and come back to it later."

For 11 years she has made messes there, leaving and coming back. Now she has a body of work, hanging in the Schneider Museum, to show for it.

"In this show is everything that I've done. The house is very bare," she said. "It takes a long time to create but for me it's so much fun I don't pay any attention to how much time it took. It makes me totally happy that I can work with color, it's kind of peaceful, like meditating."

Her work went on display earlier this summer. She says she is pleased with the way it has been received.

"I have gotten so much feedback from people that say they look at it and it makes them feel happy," she said. "It's very satisfying to have people look at your work and enjoy your work."

Hoppe's fabrics and quilts will stay on display through Sept. 12. Visitors to the museum are encouraged to pay a $5 donation. The Schneider Museum of Art is located on the Southern Oregon University campus, at 1250 Siskiyou Blvd.

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