May Artist Interview – Ann Brauer

May’s artist interview is with quilter Ann Brauer. I’ve been following her on Twitter for awhile and read her blog as well.

1. How did you get started in your craft? (using your media)

Rainbows of Summer ©Ann Brauer 99x99”

I have always loved to sew. Growing up on a farm I was surrounded by the quilts that my grandmother and mother made but I never thought I could make one. Instead I made clothes, doll dresses and costumes for the high school musicals. Eventually I quit wearing the clothes that I wanted to sew and put away my machine. By training I am actually a lawyer. Even then though I was much better working with my hands. I had my own company that did research for other lawyers and would write out the arguments and then cut and paste them on my living room floor. At one point I had a roommate who made quilts and I realized that if I made quilts I could buy fabric. Soon I ran out of friends to give the quilts too and began selling them. A couple years later my life was at a crossroads and I decided to see what happened if I tried to support myself as a quiltmaker. I moved from Boston, MA to a cabin in western Massachusetts and taught myself to make quilts. I have not worked as a lawyer since.

2. What has been inspiring/influencing your work lately?

Summer Sky ©Ann Brauer 50x81”

In my quilts I use color, commercially available fabric and the traditions of quiltmaking to create abstract landscapes that reflect the prairies of the Midwest where I grew up, the hills of western Massachusetts where I now live and different vistas of my imagination. The flow of color is very important to me. Last August I lost my studio as a result of Hurricane Irene. I had previously been experimenting with using thin strips of fabric to create an abstract intense color field within the quilts. Although my new studio is only across the river from where I had previously been I am now in a much more urban area. My view now is of trains and the metal structure of an Iron Bridge. My work is beginning to reflect these more geometric images and become even more abstract.

3. Who are your favorite artists in your field?

Into the Sky ©Ann Brauer 45 x 45”

There are so many artists whose work I love. When I began making quilts I was instantly taken with the abstract art of Michael James who was also using design and shapes to create feelings of depth and motion. Nancy Crow’s work is constantly changing and I do enjoy looking at it. While Susan Shie’s quilts are very different from mine, I love the intensity of her pieces and the stories she tells. Although very different from mine, I love the ethereal nature of Wen Redmond’s printed art. In addition I find many of the recent encaustic pieces of my friend Laurie Goddard to make me look at new shapes and design.

4. What is your favorite customer quote or story?

Quilts installed at the Federal District Courthouse ©Ann Brauer

In addition to making wall hangings and custom quilts, I make a selection of smaller items. Ten years ago a docent led a group of volunteers from the Springfield Museum of Fine Art through my studio. While she was visiting she purchased one of my very small quilts that I call whatevers. A few years later she was now a curator at the Museum and she wanted to have a solo quilt show. She noticed the little whatever on her coffee table and contacted me. This show resulted in my getting the commission to make 12 quilts for the new Federal District Courthouse in Springfield, MA. Amazing how one little piece could travel so far.

5. What is your favorite piece of art or fine craft that you own?

My very favorite piece is the quilt that my grandmother made for me when I was born. It is a postage stamp quilt made from feed sack cloth. Although I slept under it for years I was always finding new designs and details that she had inserted into the quilts. This was and remains the inspiration for my quilts. In addition I do treasure the quilt that my grandmother made for the closet of her guest bedroom. The quilting and design are her own based on the oak trees that grew in the pastures of our farm.

For more images–check out or follow Ann’s blog.

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