MINDEN — To Molly Anderson, a red flower contains more colors than just red.
“I don’t like to make a red flower red,” she said. “I like to get out some different pieces of wool, different colors, different textures and maybe something that has a plaid or a stripe in it, because when I cut them into quarter-inch strips, you’ll only going to see the cut edge.”
She combines the pieces of wool — set on edge in a frame — to create her art. Work by the Minden resident continues on display at the Minden Opera House Gallery through Aug. 31. “Surface Design & Pattern in Textiles” features examples of new work by Anderson.
Patrons can see the work and hear the artist talk about her technique during an artist’s reception 5-7 p.m. Friday at the Minden Opera House. Admission to the gallery and the reception is free.
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Anderson worked in the area of art quilts for many years.
“These pieces are all pretty new,” the artist said. “A lot of people won’t have seen them before. I’m more known as being a quilter but I’ve recently switched medium over to wool. It comes by different names. I’ve been calling it ‘wool felt on edge.’”
She first learned of the technique while viewing pieces of wool felt on edge art of Jean Louise Berg Thiessen (1876-1960) at the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney.
“I had seen them and I always thought to myself, if the quilts become kind of tiring, predictable or not challenging enough, I would try that,” she said. “A couple years ago, that came about. So I’ve only been doing the wool felt on edge by looking at Louise’s pieces and adapting them to my own style. It’s all pretty new. I’ve been at it for only a few years. I love it and I love the way it looks.”
To Anderson, the sense of history adds to the value of her work.
“Other than the pieces of Jean Louise Berg Thiessen, people will not have seen this before,” she said.
The new technique challenged the artist, something that keeps her refreshed creatively.
“The quilts really weren’t offering me a lot of challenges anymore,” she said. “I wanted to try something different.”
The technique involves gluing strips of wool — on edge — glued to a piece of hardboard engineered wood. The original work of Thiessen was glued and sewn together giving her artwork more of a look of a rug. Anderson looked at the pieces and devised her own method of attaching the strips of wool.
She likes the challenge of deconstructing an idea and adapting it to her own work.
“When I first started doing the quilts, they were the same way,” she said. “I wanted to do things that looked like paintings, that looked like something they weren’t. They weren’t going to go on a bed. They weren’t a pillow. They weren’t a table runner. They weren’t a pot holder. I wanted them to be something they were not.”
She created non-functional art intended to be displayed on a wall — but still looked like quilts.
With her new work, Anderson focused on texture.
“The entire show revolves around surface pattern, texture and design,” she said. “Texture is a really important part. I don’t like to have solids anywhere. I want some sort of pattern in there, some sort of pattern change, some sort of texture change. Some people might say they are too busy, but not me.”
To Anderson, additional texture creates interest in the viewers.
She observed patrons at the quilt exhibit at the stage fair to better understand what causes them to slow down and look.
“I want something that when somebody walks by, they’re going to stop,” Anderson said. “They’re not going to keep walking. I want something that demands their attention. That is the whole premise of anything I do artistically; I want it to slow them down. I don’t care if they hate it, I just don’t want them to be wishy-washy about it. I want them to really hate it or really love it.”