Visual storytelling

Local fiber artists bring literature-inspired ‘Storytime’ art show to Second Story Gallery at Camas library

"Toy Maker" by CarolAnne Olson

"Gears" quilt by Linda Reinert

"The Green Door of Georges Meliere" quilt by Hedda Wright

"Portlandia" quilt by Mary Kay Price

"Kaleidoscope Tree" quilt by Judith Phelps

Camas fiber artist Dianne Kane says she has always been intrigued by artwork based on literature.

“It’s a fascinating process,” the English major turned quilting artist says. “I will read something and think, ‘How else could I represent this story?'”

After reading the young adult historical fiction book, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” written and illustrated by Brian Selznick, for instance, Kane’s attention turned to clock gears.

“I was intrigued with the clocks and the symbols of the time pieces,” Kane says, referring to Selznick’s book, in which a 12-year-old orphan named Hugo, the son of a clockmaker, spends his days inside the walls of a Paris train station, where he fixes the station’s clocks.

The resulting quilts blend gear-shaped fabric pieces with actual clock gears Kane purchased at a clock repair shop.

One of Kane’s “Hugo Cabret” inspired quilts, “Suspended in Time,” will soon hang in the Second Story Gallery, above the Camas Public Library, as part of a two-month art show presented by a group of women artists called The Storytellers.

The “Storytime” show features fiber art created by the six members of The Storytellers group and inspired by four different books: “The Invention of Hugo Cabret;” the Pulitzer-prize winning “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr; the richly illustrated “Dreaming In Color: An Autobiography” by American artist Kaffe Fassett; and the novel “Glaciers” by Portland author Alexis M. Smith.

“We were very careful about the books we chose,” Kane says of The Storytellers group. “We wanted to pick a selection that would appeal to a wide audience.”

The other members of The Storytellers include CarolAnne Olson, Judith Phelps, Mary Kay Price, Linda Reinert and Hedda Wright.

The “Storytime” show, which runs through Nov. 30, opens with a First Friday art reception, during which the artists will share their individual creative processes, from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 5, in the gallery, located on the second floor of the Camas library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., in downtown Camas.

Vancouver artist Linda Reinert, who has been quilting seriously since the mid-1990s but grew up with a needle and thread in her hand, says she is looking forward to sharing her process with others at the First Friday reception.

“One thing I always tell people about quilting is that, if you have a desire, you can learn,” Reinert says. “Any time we (The Storytellers) get to interact with the public is one of my favorite times. I love telling our stories and just sharing this with others.”

Kane agrees.

“It’s really interesting pulling information from others,” the Camas quilter says. “What do they take away from these books?”

The storytellers say viewers will be intrigued by the variety of pieces inspired by each book title, illustrated with wide-ranging techniques including applique, piecing and painting on fabric. Some of the pieces have been shown in venues throughout the United States.

“Storytelling is a tradition in all cultures, first as oral and pictorial such as cave paintings,” the group states on The Storytellers website at storytellerquilters.com. “Our group was formed because we all wanted to continue that tradition by using quilts to present visual stories.”

The artists themselves often have wildly different interpretations of the books, and their finished quilts represent not only the literature but their own sense of self.

“Some of the quilts you can tell the book immediately. Alice opening the door for ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ for instance,’ Kane says. “Most of my pieces require some interpretation to figure out.”

Since the new “Storytime” art show lends itself beautifully to the library below the Second Story Gallery, Camas library staff have planned several events linked to the art show throughout October and November. There will be seminars for adults as well as youth. A full list of activities can be found on the library’s website at cityofcamas.us/camaspubliclibrary.

For more information about The Storytellers, visit storytellerquilters.com. The “Storytime” art show will be available for viewing Oct. 5 through Nov. 30, during regular library hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. For more information about the gallery, visit secondstorygallery.net.