“Terrie Hancock Mangat: Quilts” at Carl Solway Gallery

By Karen Chambers

Terrie Hancock Mangat is quite clear about what she’s making when she stitches together cloth and adds all manner of embellishment from buttons to beads, appliqués to embroidery. She is making art quilts.

Lest you think the idea of “quilt as art” is a distinctly 20th-century phenomenon (spurred in the 1970s by the exhibition of Amish quilts as folk counterparts to abstraction), there is a long history of quilts as art. This is exemplified by presentation quilts, made as keepsakes or to commemorate an event. They were definitely not headed for bed.

Although Mangat is credited with pioneering and popularizing embellishment on quilts, she doesn’t dress up her work by calling it “fiber art.” Of course, painting on canvas is “fiber art,” too. (Just a thought: If Mangat’s work were seen only in reproduction, all of its three-dimensionality could be illusionistic, the product of a particularly skilled trompe l’oeil painter.)

Looking at Mangat’s art quilts, the adjectives just come tumbling out: exuberant, energetic, excessive, riotous, chaotic, kaleidoscopic, flamboyant, bombastic, and just plain “too much.” Her quilts induce temporary ADHD–attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Mangat, who began sewing by hand and machine when she was six and earned a B. A. in art at the University of Kentucky in 1970, uses fabric like paint. In Tiger Chopsticks and Green Tape (2012, machine-pieced fabric, 60” x 57.5”), and Asian Influence Scrap Bag ( 2012, machine-pieced fabric, 55” x 51”) with their small squares of Asian-themed fabric, the artist pits pattern against pattern, color against color. They remind me of Japanese quilts while the loose grid of overstitching recalls Alfred Jensen’s obsessive geometric paintings with their rich impasto-ed surfaces.

One of Mangat’s favorite themes is fireworks. In Taos Mountain Fireworks (2012, cotton, silk, acrylic paint, pearls, rhinestones, bugle beads, and hand-stitching, 91.25” x 89.5”), the Cold Spring native who moved to Taos in 1998 captures the explosive quality of a pyrotechnic display bursting against a dark but wildly patterned nighttime sky and illuminating a flower garden of embroidered blooms.

I understand why Solway has paired Mangat’s quilts with graphic designer Milton Glaser’s hand-knotted, Tibetan-wool and fine-silk rugs for Atelier Lapchĭ. On the surface, it makes a lot of sense, except that it really doesn’t.

Mangat is using a craft technique to make art and keeps the name “quilt” to honor that tradition.

Glaser is a designer with no pretentions. He makes an odd drawing or print, but they are exercises to flex his artistic muscles. Atelier Lapchĭ hired him to produce rug designs, and I doubt if he ever considered calling the rugs “usable art.”

As apparently logical as the Glaser and Mangat coupling is, I would have liked to have seen Mangat’s quilts juxtaposed with John Torreano’s bejeweled paintings. Comparing the decorative quality of both would have been fun.

Karen S. Chambers

“Terrie Hancock Mangat: Art,” on view through July 13, 2013, at Carl Solway Gallery, 424 Findlay St., Cincinnati, OH 45214. 513-621-0069, www.solwaygallery.com. Mon.- Friday, 9 a. m.-5:00 p. m., Sat., noon-5 p. m., through July 13, 2013.


1) Terrie Hancock Mangat, Asian Influence Scrap Bag, 2012, machine-pieced fabric, 55” x 51”. Photo courtesy of Carl Solway Gallery.

2) Terrie Hancock Mangat, Tiger Chopsticks and Green Tape, 2012, machine-pieced fabric, 60” x 57.5”. Photo courtesy of Carl Solway Gallery.

3) Terrie Hancock Mangat, Taos Mountain Fireworks, 2012, cotton, sik, acrylic paint, pearls, rhinestones, bugle beads, hand-stitching, 91.25” x 89.5”. Photo courtesy of Carl Solway Gallery.

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