Rowell was always cutting and gluing and pasting and putting
things together as a child.
Rowell was fortunate to have a nurturing, positive mother who
believed Bernie could do anything she wanted, and helped her
figure out ways to do just that.
graceful, spritelike woman in her mid-fiftiesis nationally
known for her contemporary art quilts. She lives in Candler,
NC and is a long-standing member of the Southern Highland Craft
Guild. Bernie creates incredible layered tapestries that grace
homes, galleries, and corporations across the U.S. Each work
of art includes a piece of her creativity and positive energy.
her most deeply personal art quilt series came to life as a
gift. The first creation in this series, called Shields for
Women Warriors, honored a friend, a woman artist who battled
breast cancer and won. But the battle took its tollfirst
one breast, then the other, over a year-long experience that
her friend shared in some detail. When she got out of
the hospital, I just felt I wanted to do something for her,
so I made her a small shield to honor her courage and bravery
and help protect her, said Bernie. [right: the
enemy within: 53" x 23" mixed-media quilt]
gift to a friend sparked a whole new art series, and in 1997
she created a large quilt called For the Tribe of One-Breasted
Women, a 60 x 37mixed-media art quilt accepted
by Quilt National, a biennial international juried exhibition
of contemporary innovative quilts. The quilt traveled with the
show for two years and the response from women all over the
country was tremendous.
prefer to deal with issues using humorit takes a lot less
energy than anger.
by this warm response, Bernie continued making Shield quilts.
The quilts took on a broader meaning as Bernie dealt with her
own need for protection
struggling with her mothers
battle with Alzheimers disease and her own menopause with
its hot flashes and mood swings.
I faced my own life challenges, I realized we need protection
from so many things, so I began to create more shields, broadening
their protective capabilities. Its an idea that evolves
from my own life and I also realized I could have fun with them,
Bernie created a few mixed-media quilts using antique fans,
calling them her hot flash fans. I prefer to deal with
issues using humor, it takes a lot less energy than anger.
method for creating mixed-media art quilts is time consuming
and a labor of love. Using a painted canvas as her base, she
cuts up the canvas and assembles the piece parts on her sewing
machine. She takes the pieces and creates collages using lots
of embellishment, including buttons, beads, fringe, and shiny
vinyl. The quilts range in size from 16 x 24 to
40 x 60.
put a lot of positive energy into these creations and when people
collect my work they receive that energy and the art works
protective qualities, she noted.
series Shields for Women Warriors continues to blossom. She
considers these art works medals of honor. They celebrate the
courage of women with the inner strength to fight cancer, AIDS,
poisoned environments and poisoned relationships. These
are friendly shields that offer psychological protection from
my own and your personal bogeyman. Their positive energy is
just what I need these days.
Bernies life evolves, so does her art, but her creations
still include elements of protection and healing. Her recent
landscape and garden quilts celebrate the WNC mountains in all
seasons. She is currently working on a series of shields for
the earth. A computer scrap quilt series incorporates recycled
computer parts, saving these scraps from dumpsters and landfills.
work is on display locally at the Folk Art Center, Blue Spiral
Gallery in Asheville, at her studio in Candler and on her website
Her next exhibition will be next February-March at Blue Spiral
Gallery in Asheville.
more about Bernie on the Web:
Spiral (also Sticks
Art of Leadership
of Showings 2002-2003
from the Carolinas"
Mint Museum of Craft + Design
April 25-September 8, 2002
Highlands Guild Fairs
Summer: July 18-21, 2002
Fall: October 17-20, 2002
Contemporary Tapestry Studio + Gallery
Royal Oak, Maryland (east shore)
September 13-November 30, 2002
Spiral 1 Fiber Invitational
February 28-April 19, 2003
Cable Television Interview
Air Date TBA