Artist Chair Gallery Botanical Gallery Pages Torn I Gallery Pages Torn II Gallery

A brown pelican poised on the wind's lip
turns, wings akimbo, falls into the sea
like Icarus surprised at his own audacity
flailing into courage, the sheer bravado
of his submission to earth's gravity.

How like love this is, the awkward splash
into the green element, control abandoned,
the surrender of his mastery of the wind,
falling like a stone into a wave, a bed,
a lush garden of infinite possibility.


Kathleen Field

Background : Collections : Influences


Born in Chicago, raised in Lake Forest, Illinois, and yes, I am still here. Living in a house across the street from the house where Dave Eggers lived, as he mentions in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. In 1972, I graduated from Marquette University with a BA in English and History. I taught fifth grade in an economically depressed area for a number of years. Towards the end of my teaching career, I had three babies within a span of eighteen months, two came at once, that was in 1983-84.

People often ask if I learned to quilt at my grandmother's knee. Wish I could say that I did, but this is something I discovered quite independently.

In 1985, I purchased a four poster bed for my oldest daughter, Emily, and I wanted to make her a quilt. Since I had never sewn before, I had no idea the magnitude of the task I was about to undertake. I went into a fabric store and picked a quilt off the wall to make. Over the next few weeks I was submerged in the world of fabrics, patterns, and tools. And when Emily's quilt was finished, I realized I had found my vocation. So, for the next several years, I studied the techniques and skills of quilting, albeit by machine and not by hand.

From the local art fairs, such as the Deerpath Fall Festival of Art in Lake Forest and the Port Clinton Art Fair in Highland Park, Illinois, I began displaying my quilts. Two years later, in 1987, David Lipschutz encountered me at the Custer Street Art Fair and asked if I would like to hang my quilts in his vegetarian restaurant, the Blind Faith Cafe, in Evanston. And a beautiful romance began – my quilts with his walls.

Having been raised by a strict, first-generation American mother and taught by the nuns, I obeyed every rule - as I did in my quilting – making over two thousand traditionally pieced quilts with a contemporary flavor from 1985 to 1993. A significant departure occurred in 1993 – I began a series of chair quilts - all styles of chairs, comprised of commercial fabrics on hand-dyed backgrounds. Many great painters of the past and present incorporate chairs in their work and it was this painterly quality that I wanted to evoke in fabric. In 1996, the College of Lake County commissioned me to make a large triptych (7'x21') of chairs for their new campus.

Influenced by David Hockney and Henri Matisse, I incorporated my chairs into room settings 1994-1995 – a great many with windows and vases of flowers. Several of these quilts are in the Chair Gallery.

In 1995, I helped to make the 10th anniversary quilt for Chicago House, an agency finding housing for those with HIV. The 12' x 12' quilt was displayed in Washington, D.C. in 1996, along with all the quilt panels from the AIDS Memorial qulit, the last time ever for all the panels to be shown together. Its home is now with the NAMES Project in San Francisco, CA.

With the planting of my perennial garden, it was natural for me to move outdoors with my work - capturing fountains, forest gardens, and botanic samplers with a medieval feel. A few of these can be viewed in the Botanical Gallery.

In 1997, I got sick, yet continued to make quilts. In August of 1998, I made "A Year Less Well Traveled," a quilt depicting my year of breast cancer treatment. During this time, I saved a quote made by Lauren Hutton, concerning a subject dear to women breast cancer survivors and I made "Lauren Hutton, Silence".

Personal and family issues led to a self-imposed sabbatical from 1998-1999, a year which culminated in a thematic change in my work. Inspired by images and text, I transfer these by enlarging, reducing and manipulating. I, then, combine these to form a quilted union of color and composition. From this, I conceived my series "Pages Torn." In 2000, a workshop by Jonathan Talbot, enabled me to create, "Pages Torn, Part 2".

Collections & Exhibitions

Selected exhibitions:

Themed traveling quilt shows are an excellent way to showcase the work of fiber artists. My first traveling show was called "Calendar Girls" - a show involving the months of the year. Since I was the last to sign up, I was left with September. The obvious Labor Day theme was not me, so I chose to make one on the fall equinox. The quilt originally made for the show is very small, 20" x 22", so I chose to make a larger version, Fall Equinox II.

The second invitation I received was for a show called "Alphabet Soup", not wanting to be last again, I immediately responded and chose the letter "P", thinking, of course, of split pea soup. However, the show's name was later changed to "Character Traits" and each letter was to be predominately displayed. So split pea soup didn't make sense anymore. After consulting with a friend about "p" possibilities, the word puppet came up in conversation and I thought back to childhood of puppet theaters. And "Punch and Judy" came into being.

In 1997, my critique group FACET, initiated a show called "Windy City Blues." My quilt is called "The Invitation." I chose for my subject the Newberry Library, inspired by a poem written by a friend. On an overcast day I took 48 photos of the library and had them enlarged and then enlarged again. And made my first collage. This was done just in time, the library's façade has since been powerwashed and I could not have captured the same essence as when the poem was written. "Windy City Blues" is continuing to travel from Colorado to Florida to Chicago.

A new challenge was launched by the Museum of American Quilter's Society in Paducah, KY in the spring of 2000 for FACET to create a new traveling show and thus, "Narrative Portraits" was conceived. The show is currently travling around the country. My piece is called, "Advocate to Christ".


  • Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center, Wichita Falls, TX
  • "Tributary" exhibition A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY
  • Three person show, Bloomingdale Art Museum, Bloomingdale, Il
  • One person show, Barrington Library, Barrington, IL
  • One person show, Wauconda Library, Wauconda, IL
  • Greater Lafayette Museum of.Art, Lafayette, IN
  • Feminism: A Global Power, Artemisia Gallery, chicago, IL
  • Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Golden, CO
  • American Craft Council Show, Baltimore, MD


  • Kite show, Ann Nathan Gallery, chicago, IL
  • Chicago Art Open, Chicago, IL
  • Recent Works, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL
  • Fine Art of Fiber, Glencoe, IL
  • Museum of American Quilter's Society, Paducah, KY
  • Bloomingdale Art Museum, Bloomingdale, IL
  • Citywoods, Highland Park, IL
  • The Rutledge Gallery, Dayton, OH
  • Textile Arts Centre, Chicago, IL
  • American Craft Council, Baltimore, MD and San Francisco, CA
  • Three person show, Sun Porch Gallery, Madison, WI
  • Kendall College, Evanston, IL


  • Fine Art of Fiber, Botanic Garden, Glencoe, IL
  • Evanston Public Library, Evanston, IL
  • Fall Festival of Art, Lake Forest, IL
  • Port Clinton Art Fair, Highland Park, IL
  • Windy City Blues Exhibit, Primedea Gallery, Golden CO
  • Group show, Village Galleries, Asheville, NC


  • Traveling exhibit of "Character Traits" group of quilts
  • Group Show, Village Galleries, Asheville, NC
  • One Person Show, Mesa Arts, Birmingham, MI
  • Group Show, Vale Craft Gallery, Chicago, IL
  • Group Show, Signature Gallery, Boston, MA


  • Recent Works, College of Lake County, Grayslake,IL, Award of Merit
  • One Person Show, North Shore Unitarian Church, Bannockburn, IL
  • Group Show, Detroit Gallery of Contemporary Crafts, Detroit, MI
  • Group Show, Southern Illinois Art Gallery, Rend Lake, IL
  • Group Show, Freeport Art Museum, Freeport, IL
  • Group Show, Peter Jones Gallery, Chicago, IL


  • Group Show, Barrington Area Arts Council, Barrington, IL
  • Recent Works, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL, Honorable Mention
  • Two Person Show, Joy Horwich Gallery, Chicago, IL
  • One Person Show, Mesa Arts, Franklin, MI


  • Recent Works, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL
  • One Person Show, Fenway Gallery, Lakeside, MI
  • American Quilter's Society Show, Paducah, KY

Selected Collections:

  • Schiff, Hardin and Waite, Chicago, IL
  • University of Iowa Hospitals, Iowa City, IW
  • Cuna and Affliated, Madison, WI
  • Leona's Restaurant, Chicago, IL
  • The Carlson/Nathonson, Inc., Evanston, IL
  • Anita Storm PhD., Beverly Hills, CA
  • Leona's Restaurant, Oak Park, IL
  • Alice Chen, MD, Park Ridge, IL
  • Success National Bank, Chicago, IL
  • Success National Bank, Lincolnwood, IL
  • Barbara Harrod Handmacher PhD., Evanston, IL
  • Foxmeyer Corporation, Carol Stream, IL
  • The Association for Women's Health Care, Northbrook, IL
  • Groundwork Software Systems, Lake Forest, IL
  • Gnessin and Waldman, Washington, D.C.
  • Joel Siegel, Esq., Chicago, IL
  • Estes Boshes, DDS, Highland Park, IL
  • Kenwood and Associates, West Patterson, NJ
  • College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL
  • Barbara Livington-Goschi, PsyD., Chicago, IL
  • Allegheny University Hospital for Women, Philadelphia, PA
  • St. Louis Children's Hospital, St. Louis, MO
  • David Olson, MD, Wilmette, IL

Influences & Other Favorites

  • The Romance of Tristan – Berol
  • The Mourners' Bench – Susan Dodd
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • Muir Beach, CA
  • Point Lobos, CA
  • a house on Autumn Street
  • Same Time Next Year
  • Brief Encounter
  • A Man and A Woman
  • When we two parted – Lord Byron
  • The Good Morrow – John Donne
  • A Song of a Young Lady to her Ancient Lover – John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
  • In My Life – Lennon and McCartney
  • Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye – Leonard Cohen
  • Catch the Wind – Donovan
  • Michael Ryan, my dear friend
  • Joseph Campbell, the philosopher
  • Grover Donlon, my father
  • Brahms – Cello Sonatas-op. 38
  • Vivaldi – Violin Concerto in A minor
  • Puccini – Quando men vo from La Boheme and Un bel di vedremo (Atto II) from Madame Butterfly
  • Johannes Vermeer
  • Henri Matisse
  • Reginald Coleman
  • my dogs – Fergus, Humphrey, Henry
  • not my three cats, who show little respect for my studio
  • not the bird – my father's last eccentric act – buying a green parrot on St. Patrick's day, 1989

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