Take everything you know about your grandmother’s quilt and elevate it. Bridging the past with the present, Sarasota textile artist Maggie Dillon translates vintage images, family photos and her own photography into quilted pieces of fine art. The award-winning textile portrait artist captures candid moments, evoking a feeling of nostalgic happiness but also loss of something deeply important and soulful.
What prompted you to work with fiber?
My freshman year at Flagler College in historic St. Augustine, I started working at a local quilt shop near campus. I began experimenting with fabric as a medium after being a traditional quilter for about a decade. Encouraged by my drawing professor, I created my first fiber portrait made of collaged commercial fabrics. Since 2008, I have worked exclusively in fabric and textiles. Increasingly, more galleries and venues are accepting mixed media/fiber, but it is still an uncommon medium.
How do you source and select the vintage photos you use?
While pursuing a fine art degree, I focused on photojournalism. I enjoyed that the photos captured what was happening in the moment, rather than an awareness of the camera. A friend found some amazing vintage images in a thrift shop. I pulled inspiration from a few of those and entered some exhibitions, and from there I was hooked. My favorite images are the ones that feel the most authentic and nostalgic. Many are sourced from original family photos, while others are pieced together with different elements of images before creating the pattern.
Why do these textile art pieces make an impact?
Quilting and textile work have a broad view of being “grandma’s quilts” and a strictly utilitarian item. I believe my work, among others, is breaking those boundaries and elevating the medium to fine art. It draws the viewer in, looking closely at the built-up fabric layers, stitching and textures.