ST. PETERSBURG — Every work of art is somehow sparked by an unspoken question. 

Internally, each artist silently contemplates what message they want to convey through their creation; what emotions they want to evoke in those experiencing their art; and what sources of inspiration will they draw from to forge their creativity. They may ask very specific questions about shared experiences, or universal questions about the meaning of life.

In “The Artist’s Question … Answered in Fiber,” an exhibition of art-quilts created by 29 members of the Studio Art Quilt Associates Inc., Florida CraftArt challenged artists to pose a question or grapple with an issue, then answer the question through the creation of an original art quilt. Works in the exhibit were selected by renowned New York quilt designer Zak Foster.

The exhibition opened April 25 and will continue through Saturday, May 14, at Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg.

Sponsored by Jeannine Hascall, the show is a project of SAQA’s Florida Region, in cooperation with several Gulf regions, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. It will travel to five additional venues in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas through summer 2023.

“I think viewers will be amazed at the way a group of artists could all begin with the same premise and create such a wide variety of artwork,” said Bobbi Baugh, one of the artists and co-chair of the exhibition committee.

Peg Green, whose work also is featured in the exhibition, has lived all over the world — from Chicago and Philadelphia to Germany and Mongolia — but now calls Sarasota her home.

“I’ve had about as many professional careers as hometowns, and now I’m an artist specializing in fabric tapestries, also known as ‘art-quilts,’” she explains on her website. “I started quilting about 25 years ago, developing a personal style using intricate combinations of curved shapes and colorful patterns in bold designs that express the exuberance of life.”

Green says that her artwork tends toward spiritual and feminist themes, as does her personality and intellectual curiosity. 

“I’m inspired by nature, archetypes and symbols from myths and cultures across the world: Shamanism, anthropology, and feminism,” she says. “I use an intuitive approach to design, which has been strongly influenced by three years studying intuitive painting through the teachings of Michele Cassou and Judith Forst.”

Fiber artist Sally Dutko of Fort Myers seeks to create mostly raw-edge abstract work, along with some figurative and whimsical pieces. 

“Inspiration comes from everywhere: words I have read or places I travel, walk, shop, or explore,” Dutko says on her website. “My art evolves intuitively in my head and on my studio design walls, where constant change and experimentation happen. Color, texture, lines, text are all elements I wrestle with; sometimes the evolution takes many months, or even years. My pieces try to convey the excitement of uniting fabric, paper, stitching and objects into a joyful visual experience.”

Brooksville’s Susan Lumsden says she was never one to follow other people’s pathways.

“I chartered my own path creating art-quilts and marketing them via juried art festivals over much of the nation,” Lumsden says on her website. “During a period of about seven years, I earned three national awards in both fiber and multi-media and many, many regional and state awards. Commissions were sold to both the private sector as well as corporate and public entities.”

Lumsden’s skills in surface design are widely varied, and she enjoys the breadth of those skills. They include breakdown or deconstructed silk screen printing, thermofax screens, Seminole piecing, free-motion quilting, pattern fabrication, garment design, linocut/ block printing, applique, and working with various wet and dry media to make a mark.

“As an instructor, I am considered an expert in each of these techniques and a skilled instructor,” she explains. “I absolutely love teaching them to others.”

In conjunction with this exhibition, SAQA artists will talk about their work during a Zoom session set for Wednesday, May 6, at 6 p.m. For the Zoom link, visit FloridaCraftArt.org.

SAQA is a nonprofit organization that works to promote the art-quilt. According to SAQA, an art-quilt is “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.” Over the past 30 years, the organization has grown into a dynamic and active community of artists, curators, collectors, and art professionals located around the world. Their vision is that the art quilt is universally respected as a fine art medium.

The exhibition is made possible by the state of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the city of St. Petersburg. Docent tours are available upon request.