Mon, May 19|
Patty Arensen: Out of Africa
Africa is well known for its colorful and bold-printed fabric, but did you know that there are many different styles each having its own country, design and cultural significance. There are specific fabrics worn by nobility, others by the common man (or woman).
Time & Location
May 19, 2025, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM CDT
About the Event
Africa is well known for its colorful and bold-printed fabric, but did you know that there are many different styles each having its own country, design and cultural significance. There are specific fabrics worn by nobility, others by the common man (or woman). Some are worn as wraps, others are made into elaborate dresses. Patty will share the stories of these fabrics--their histories and purposes. She will show examples and will tell us about her own quilts that she has made from these bright beauties and of other artists who have used these fabrics.
Patty grew up in Minneapolis in a family of sewists. She made her first quilt at the age of 15 when she learned the basics of traditional quilting in a history class. This involved cardboard patterns, which she found frustrating and inaccurate. After graduating from the U of MN, she was a teacher of missionaries' children in Kenya where she met her husband. During their first visit to the States with small children, she was introduced to the rotary cutter. She bought a book that claimed she could make a log cabin quilt in a weekend. Well, it took 7 years to complete!
Patty's family soon was blessed with a special needs daughter and they found themselves in the city of Nairobi in order to provide the care and education she needed. Patty's days were filled with taking her to school and therapy appointments. She was overwhelmed and needed a creative outlet. She found the Kenya Quilt Guild, which was a group of women from around the world, who taught her how to quilt and then gave her the freedom to do it her own way. When she started to break the rules, they cheered! Not all quilting fabric has to be American cottons – African fabrics are beautiful. Patty learned how these fabrics are different and how to use them in her quilts.
When their daughter graduated from high school, they returned to Minneapolis. Patty's work was soon in the Sacred Threads exhibit, which travels across the US. Patty has found a home in SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) whose vision is to promote the art quilt as fine art. The SAQA-MN SEASONS exhibit was at MSP airport from 2022-23 and the WATER exhibit was there in September 2023. Her work of 6 double sided acoustical tapestries is seen in a permanent installation at Trinity Church of Minnehaha Falls.