Betsy Shannon Art Quilts & Needle Felting
Betsy Shannon's Story
Crediting P Kate Bendel for her talented writing support
If you ask this quilt and fiber artist when, how or why she began making quilts, she would tell you she began twenty years ago, sewing simple squares of material together to comfort her ill brother. In truth, she has always manipulated materials, creating designs with fervor to feed her soul on many empty canvases, including celebratory cakes to self-designed clothes. Her designs may indeed have only found their way to quilts in the past twenty years, with six very active and successful years, another five fantastic years as a quilt shop owner, but interrupted by an eight-year break to care for elderly parents and in-laws. She is now making art again, working 6-10 hours many days of the week.
In the beginning she entered challenge contests and won honorable mention for the 2000 Cocheco Print Works collection, "What Comes Around, Goes Around" sponsored by the American Textile History Museum, and her quilt remains in their archives. Another of her quilts, “Dorothy’s Not in Kansas Anymore” entered in the “Century of Progress” challenge contest, exhibited at the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania and traveled to quilt shows in Ft. Washington, PA and Santa Clara, CA. From here on, inspired now, her passion was fueled by acceptance into the arena of quilt makers and her designs began to include her spiritual beliefs for social justice.
Before she opened up a quilt shop in 2005 with her daughter, Melissa Lewis Berman, her 8 year employment at ST STEPHENS CHURCH of Minneapolis, inspired her “Wishes for the World” (WFTW) quilt which hung in the 2001 “America: From the Heart” exhibit. It also hung in her workplace during the advent season of 2000 and won 2nd place in the Innovative Category with another, “Tropical Grizzleys” Judges Choice (Rhoda Cohen) at the 2001 Minnesota Quilt Festival in Duluth. WFTW was popular in magazines and books, and also hung at the Human Services building after she was gone, for several years. During her church employment, small to medium quilts were made, donated to fundraising events depicting the injustices of society.
For the impromptu International Quilt Festival exhibit, “America: From the Heart”, commemorating September 11, 2001, she was inspired to design a new quilt she called “Spirits Rising I”, which contributed over $500 towards the $25,615 raised in the silent auction as a fund raiser for victims of the attack. This exhibit fostered a book, “America: From the Heart”, of which the entire sale proceeds was donated to the same foundation. Her quilt, “Spirits Rising I” was chosen for the book’s cover. She made a larger Spirits Rising II quilt which took on a life of its own, touring, and ending in a permanent Collection at the 911 Museum in New York City. A Spirits Rising III was requested for the IQF exhibit and book sales booth, and a Spirits Rising IV request ended up in Costa Rica touring with other exhibitors and finding a home in one of their Museums.
Entering each Cherrywood Fabric Challenge since 2014 has been accepted each time and toured the country and overseas. Her work is also published in the accompanying books for each challenge. Entering challenges in the MN State Fair, MN Quilters and MN Contemporary Quilters has been a fun creative outlet for her work. She is looking forward to working on collections of some subject, honor, cause.
Colors and designs of fabric fuel her best creative work. Her main style is fusing and various styles of thread work, and on occasion piecing traditional quilts. She loves themes and various challenges as ideas spin her artistic visions. Painting, inking, beading, using watercolor pencil and printing on fabric, needle felting are other ways to add to her creative toolbox.