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A group of artists stands in front of artwork on view at the Riffe Gallery during the Material Pulses exhibition

Asking "Material Pulses" Artists What Really Matters: Part I

If you find yourself walking through the OAC's Riffe Gallery wondering, "How do they do that?" The answer to that mysterious question is simpler than it may seem, though, it’s definitely not easy. In short interviews with Material Pulses artists, curator Nancy Crow discovers the what, how, and why behind the artistic process of these large-scale quilts. In Part I, we explore the importance of medium and discipline. 


Making art isn’t all talent—discipline is key. Time dedicated to personal development can yield improvements in technical skill and craft, encourage new discoveries, and lead to epiphany moments. Material Pulses artists talk about how they keep sharp and continue to push themselves and their work (sometimes literally) to new heights:  

Mary Lou AlexanderClaire BennElizabeth BrandtJayne Willoughby

L to R: Mary Lou Alexander, Claire Benn, Elizabeth Brandt, Jayne Willoughby.

"I am committed to expanding and improving my skills with twice-yearly workshops in the US and overseas, and I take advantage of local opportunities to learn whenever they arise. For me, the process of making art has always been primary. It’s about the doing, not the having; about the making, not the product."  

CLAIRE BENN | Betchworth, Surrey, UK
"I spend more time in my studio than anywhere else; just me, the idea, the materials, and the work."

ELIZABETH BRANDT | Holland, Michigan
"It is not hard for me to be disciplined--I love going into the studio anytime I can. I figure the more I work, the more I develop."

JAYNE WILLOUGHBY | Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
"I am always growing as an artist. If I’m not creating art, I’m developing ideas, doing research, talking about art and creativity, teaching, or dealing with art business."


In order to create, an artist must first choose her materials. Maybe a mentor or colleague encouraged its use, or perhaps it’s always been a part of her life, or sometimes, the medium finds the artist. Learn more about fabric love affairs:

Christine MauersbergerBarb WillsJan Myers-NewburyDenise L. Roberts
L to R: Christine Mauersberger, Barb Wills, Jan Myers-Newbury, Denise L. Roberts

"I choose to use fabric and other fiber-based materials because these things hold a deep connection to my formative years."

BARB WILLS | Prescott, Arizona
"I love the ability to dye, cut, stitch and print on fabric like no other medium."

JAN MYERS-NEWBURY | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
"I started stitching into fabric when I was four years old, and it feels like breathing to me."

DENISE L. ROBERTS | Albright, West Virginia
"There are many processes involved in working with fabric—dyeing, composing, piecing, quilting, and finishing work. I love them all."

Material Pules: 8 Viewpoints is a display of contemporary machine-quilting and surface design by eight international artists. On view in the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery through July 16. Admission to the Gallery is always free.

The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, across from the Statehouse on High Street in Downtown Columbus. Like the Riffe Gallery on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


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