Astrid Hilger Bennett

To me, successful art works in any medium are a balance of complex forms. I juxtapose active forms with quiet, inward ones, motion with stillness. In music, the silence between notes is just as important as the notes themselves.

I’m happiest with a brush in my hand, and art quilts allow me a large-scale, exuberant canvas. Although visually abstract, my work constantly mines the daily life experiences of family, society and the natural world, with a hefty dose of music to guide the hand. Painterly quilts are abstract, expressionistic arrangements of color.

I tend to abstract natural imagery into lyrical compositions. As a violinist, painting and printing fabrics is a bit like improvising, or playing an instrument. There’s an immediacy, a give and take with the process. I may have an idea when I start but I always end up with something different. And I am always listening to music. For me, some composers really inspire color, like Shostakovich, whose music matches the way I like to paint. I think about the crazy and very troubling times in which he was working and realize how powerful the tool was that he used to express his world.

Trained as a printmaker, my interest in fiber art began in childhood, and art quilts are the natural synthesis. I have a family heritage in music, printmaking (Goltzius, Kalckreuth), as well as business. I received my BFA in printmaking from Indiana University and have exhibited and taught at various locations throughout the country. I’ve also been a cultural activist, serving as longtime manager, marketing director & Co-owner of Iowa Artisans Gallery in Iowa City. I also currently serve as President of the Surface Design Association.