The collaborative art piece found a home in the American Museum & Gardens’ renowned quilt collection in England
When viola professor Claudine Bigelow learned that a quilt she created was received at the American Museum & Gardens’ permanent collection of American quilts in Bath, England, she was shocked, delighted — and a little confused.
“I thought it wasn’t real! I was filled with questions,” said Bigelow. “How did it get to England? Who took it there? They sent me a photograph of the actual quilt hanging in the exhibit, and that helped me realize this really happened.”
The quilt’s story began in October 2016, when Bigelow visited the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) with the BYU Department of Art on a trip to study the women’s suffrage movement. She was there to perform music from the era, but extended her trip after the BYU art professors invited her to stay and create art about the experience.
While at MCLA, Bigelow created 26 quilts inspired by women’s suffrage. One of the quilts — “VOTE: Susan B. Anthony” — was juried into the 46th Annual Quilt Show at the Springville Museum of Art. It was sold and picked up by the American Museum, which is particularly known for its quilt collection.
Bigelow feels a sense of personal growth through interdisciplinary work, and finds that making art — something she’s always loved, but fell by the wayside as she became a professional musician — adds a new dimension to her creative self.
“Creating visual art constantly inspires my musicianship,” said Bigelow. “It challenges me to think deeper about what I am trying to express, to be freer, more exploratory and accepting. It’s like I have opened more doors and windows in myself, making room for fresh air, sunshine and new ideas.”
Bigelow — who has also been working closely with the Department of Dance on folk music research — is passionate about broadening her horizons through merging disciplines. To her, the success of her quilt shows the power these collaborations can have. She is grateful for the friendship and involvement of BYU faculty in her efforts, including Bethanne Anderson, Dan Barney, Jennifer and Gary Barton, Jen Orton, Joseph and Melinda Ostraff and Linda Reynolds.
“I felt a lot of joy that the piece has been accepted and embraced,” said Bigelow. “This experience has built confidence in my abilities and validated all that I pour into it. I will keep practicing the viola and art every day.”