Material Memory

Merging the seemingly incongruent crafts of quilting and wood sculpture, the striking and vibrant work from Boston area artist Laura Petrovich-Cheney is now on display at the Boston Children’s Museum in an exhibition entitled Weathered Shapes, Wooden Quilts.  Her work has been featured at the International Quilt Museum, the Fuller Craft Museum, and Brooklyn’s A.I.R. Gallery, as well as been published in several national and international publications.

Using repurposed wood collected after natural disasters, Petrovich-Cheney assembles her pieces into quilt-like sculptures. Her aim is to display the personal impact of natural disasters and celebrate the potential for renewal while incorporating the tradition of making and gifting quilts. Quilts provide reminders of the past and the people we love, says Petrovich-Cheney, whose work posits the idea of crafting “quilts” made from salvaged and reclaimed materials whose history is visible in every weathered surface. “My work represents endurance, the beauty of hope, and the power of second chances,” she says.

These tangible expressions of artistry and resourcefulness are proving to be a delight and inspiration for the visitors to the Boston Children’s Museum, and to augment the exhibition, Petrovich-Cheney is hosting a panel discussion on June 13 called The Art Of Play. “The aim is to bring together established, Boston-based artists to learn how play influences their craft,” says Petrovich- Cheney “I believe play allows artists to externalize the internal world, communicate feelings and experiences, feel connected and safe, regulate emotions, and process difficult life events. I believe that artists need to rediscover the joy of play in their studio practice after such challenging times during the pandemic and post-pandemic world.”

Panelists for the event include Irmandy Wicaksono, a transdisciplinary engineer, artist, designer, and  Ph.D. candidate at the MIT Media Lab; Kathleen Hancock, a creator of 1:6 scale mid-century furniture and figures;  Kyungmin Park, a figurative ceramic sculptor, who draws inspiration from childlike perspectives; Janet Kawada, a Boston-based fiber artist, Silvia Lopez Chavez, a muralist, and myself, a woodworker and quilter interested in the rich narrative history of women’s textiles. Claudia Fisk, whose senior thesis was on play, will moderate the discussion and the five artist panelists.

Weathered Shapes, Wooden Quilts is on display at Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., through September 4, and The Art of Play panel discussion event will take place June 13, from 3:00 – 4:30 pm.

Photo Credit: Anna Wistran Wolfe
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