Taking quilting into a 3-dimensional space has been the focus of my recent art. What began in 1996 when I created my first quilted teapot as a gift for my mother has continued to grow. My work incorporates sculptural as well as mixed media materials and techniques as my definition of what a quilt can be expands.
Of the thirty or so quilts created in my teapot series, all have very close relationships to their titles and are largely whimsical or tongue-in-cheek plays on words. All relate to a tea-ism which I couldn't resist playing out in visual form and many have hidden jokes stitched into them that are only revealed if you interact with (or peek inside) the teapot. It may be difficult to tell from the picture but each teapot is a 3-dimensional free standing object (not stuffed!) which meets the traditional definition of a quilt (three distinct layers, held together with stitches).
While the embellished wall quilt has become a standard example of an art quilt my use of non-traditional elements to extend the quilting field has frequently placed my work somewhere between media definitions. I quite enjoy this murky, middle ground and am comfortable letting my work carry the viewer a few steps further out in my exploration of that quilt word.
Mary Beth Bellah is an artist whose work continues to challenge the traditional understanding of what constitutes a quilt. Exhibiting widely in both national and international juried/invitational exhibits her work frequently involves a unique combination of cotton, wire and thread which may be free standing or wall mounted. Recent exhibits have include work at Quilt National '07, the Kentucky Museum of Art + Design (Louisville, KY); the Huntsville Museum of Art (Huntsville, AL); SOFA (Chicago, IL with the Snyderman-Works Galleries) as well as the Milner Art Gallery (Alberta, Canada). Mary Beth’s artwork is in the permanent collections of the Virginia Executive Mansion (Richmond VA); the Racine Arts Museum (Racine, WI); Longwood University (Farmville, VA); Madeira Garne Corporate Collection (Freiburg, Germany); as well as private collections throughout the U.S.