Maps, Landforms and River Rafts: Art Quilts by Cathy Fussell and Coulter Fussell


On View: June 18 – September 10, 2022

Maps, Landforms, and River Rafts is an exhibition of two separate bodies of work by independently working artists.  The Maps and Landforms series of art quilts by Cathy Fussell are on view alongside her daughter Coulter’s River Raft series. 


QUILT TALK: September 8, 6pm 

ARTIST TALK: September 9, 11 am

VISIT TO THE HARGRETT LIBRARY: Continue Your Exploration! Cathy Fussell’s large quilt entitled Margravat of Azilia, is an interpretation in cloth a map, drawn in 1717 illustrates a proposal for a colony to be established between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers. This area would later become the state of Georgia as we now know it. You can visit the University of Georgia Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library to see this original map. It’s on display in the Hargrett Library Gallery (in the Colonial Georgia case). 300 South Hull Street. Have fun on your adventure! 

Sapelo Island
Fisk Map 11
Fisk Map 1

More on Maps, Landforms, and River Rafts: The two series connect in many ways beyond the biological relationship of the artists. The mother and daughter share inspirations, including an interest in place and freedom. Both artists show a dedication to craft and detail in their work, yet they approach quilt making in different ways. Cathy’s use of traditional materials allows the viewer to focus on delicate lines of thread flowing through the quilts, depicting literal rivers that run over land. Coulter expands her materials list to include discarded and found fabrics, and incorporates a vibrant, varied color palette. Much like a quilt created from disparate bits of fabric, piecing these two bodies of works together allows for a rich viewing experience.

Snake Shoals on the Chattahoochee

A fiber artist for more than 50 years, Cathy Fussell maintains a studio in Columbus, Georgia, where she specializes in making art quilts. In terms of theme and subject matter, Cathy’s work tends to fall into three general categories:  Geography, Southern literature, and American modernism.

Public collections holding Cathy’s work include:  The Roswell Public Library, Roswell, Georgia (Fulton County Public Arts Collection, 2018 acquisition); Fulton County Public Arts Collection 2019 acquisition; and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Koch Collection, New York, New York (six pieces).

In 2016 The Congressional Club, Washington, DC, commissioned Cathy to make a quilt for First Lady Michelle Obama. The result is “Apollo Splashdown Revisited – Homage to Alma Woodsey Thomas,” which was presented to Mrs. Obama at The Congressional Club’s Annual First Lady’s Luncheon, Washington, DC, May 12, 2016. The work is in the (forthcoming) Barack Obama Presidential Library Collection, Chicago, Illinois.

Cathy Fussell Artist Statement: “"Quilts are about history and art and politics and stories and patience and beauty and community and economics and place and expression and freedom and transition and family and warmth – and love. And they’re feminized and devalued. All that is why I’m so into quilts and quiltmaking. “

Coulter Fussell was born and raised in Columbus, Georgia, an old textile town. She is the youngest family quilter, hailing from multi-generations of seamstresses and quilters. She produces boundary pushing quilt-works using discarded and donated textiles as her sole materials. Taught to quilt by her mother, Coulter has exhibited works across the country from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, South Carolina.

Coulter is a 2021 Museum of Arts and Design Burke Prize Finalist, the Jane Crater Hiatt Fellow and winner the 2021 Mississippi Museum of Art Biennial, a 2019 United States Artists Fellow in Craft, the 2019 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Visual Arts Inductee, and the Finalist for the 2017 SouthArts Southern Prize.

Fussell River Raft 4

Coulter Fussell Artist Statement: “I produce boundary pushing quilt-works using discarded and donated textiles as my sole materials. Taught to quilt by my mother, I rely on the painterly quality inherent in used textiles to bring depth, character and story to my quilts. From T-shirts to fine silks, no fabric is valued above another. If the fabric was connected to a human life then it is as sacred as the next. I hand sew quilts to experiment with the push and pull between craft’s functionality and form while addressing truths of poverty, disparity of luck, the relationship between force and power, notions of faux romanticism and false nostalgia, the physical evidence of hard work, woman versus machine, and the great might of the haptic. Walking a compositional balance, I use the socialized, standardized and purposeful restraint of quilt patterning to self-edit what would otherwise be a full and total leap into expressionistic abstraction; playing the hyper-personal story as a wild melody in tandem with the harmony of broad themes of risk, autonomy and freedom.”

Fussell River Raft 1
Fussell River Raft 2

About Coulter’s River Raft series: “Using textiles donated to my studio as narrative clues, stories of entrapment/escape and imagery from my childhood immersed in West Central Georgia river culture, I hand-sew a series of "River Raft Quilts",  thereby setting the stories free on a conceptual waterborne path to sovereignty. From a work t-shirt at a tedious job, a pair of sweatpants worn while unemployed during quarantine, a dress from a bad relationship, a kitchen towel used as a napkin, or an old quilt from when mother’s house was cold, I use the metaphor of the river-as-escape-passage to lend these stories the tools they need for a deserved, albeit perilous, journey toward exemption.”