by Elizabeth Brannon
Ever wonder how great it would be to find a hidden treasure? Most kids hope to find a buried treasure, and maybe playing the lottery is the adult version of still hunting for that treasure. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize there are real treasures all around us and the key is knowing where to look and to recognize a treasure when it’s right in front of us.
This month we focus on one of our Fabric Artists, Barbara Oliver Hartman, of Flower Mound, who has been making art quilts for more than 35 years. Barbara is well known in the fiber arts world, and to see how well known, go out to Google and enter her name. There are a number of articles available to read about Barbara, her history and her works.
In addition to creating award winning art quilts, Barbara has been an instructor, a lecturer, a judge, a business owner (making and selling quilt patterns) and has had her juried work featured in museums and art centers across the country. Some of her art quilts are in private collections and many have been featured in magazine articles. Barbara has displayed her works in Flower Mound, Highland Village, and Denton and in locations outside of Texas, but too many local people don’t know she’s here. You can see Barbara’s art quilts in her studio during the 2017 Cross Timbers Artist Guild Studio Tour, November 11-12.
As a recent sample of her awards, Barbara’s Autumn Afternoon won the coveted People’s Choice Award at the Quilt National 2015, Autumn Evening won a blue ribbon at the Dallas Quilt show (2017) and Out My Front Door won the People’s Choice award for the Visual Arts Society of Texas’ Denton show in June, 2017.
Like most artists, Barbara is driven to create, and that creative drive keeps her working 7 days a week, often 10 or more hours per day, because sewing is a way of life for her. Barbara’s quilts are not the same as our grandmother’s quilts, so there is often a misconception of what art quilts are before seeing Barbara’s work. Art quilts are now a huge industry and are featured in juried art shows, which was not always so.
Most people are amazed to realize the work of art hanging in front of them, looking like a beautiful painting, is actually a multi-layered work of art jointly created by an artist, hundreds of pieces of fabric and a long arm quilting machine. Barbara’s award-winning quilts mentioned above are all examples of confetti quilts.
If you look at Barbara’s work, you’ll see the attention to detail and the impossibly tiny pieces of fabric she uses to create dazzling quilt pictures. Besides the creativity, a quilt has a lot of math and science as part of the final work. Barbara works in small sections, from back to front and in multiple layers that aren’t always visible to the eye. Barbara says she does her real creative work in the morning and her “donkey” work later in the day.
The column space is far too limited to do justice to this charming, prolific and successful fiber artist. To learn more about this hidden local treasure, visit www.barbaraoliverhartman.com.
Despite all of her success and the beautiful art quilts she’s created, Barbara says she has not yet done her finest work. If that’s the case, it’s hard to imagine what she’ll create in the next 35 years.