Threads Through Time-Emily Keown

Click on thumbnails to enlarge images.

Dear John Series (four works), 2019-2020
Mini quilts and drawings
On loan from the artist


Emily Keown is a textile artist and educator living in Madison, Wisconsin. She received a BFA in 2002 from the Maryland Institute College of Art, a MFA in 2005 from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and an Ed.D from Edgewood College in 2013 with her dissertation, titled “The impact of an art-based media literacy program on the leadership self-efficacy of adolescent age girls”.

Keown has worked on several projects involving young girls. One project, “Fabric of Our Lives”, brought middle school girls together for a contemporary quilting bee. Social media and modern technology were abandoned for art making face to face. “I believe that our connection to fabric, making, and imagery, paired with the slower more intimate and physical making of textile work really brings out a rich dialogue between participants.”-Emily Keown

The Dear John Series is Keown’s reaction and inspiration to a book from 1929, titled Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them by Ruth Finley, an investigative journalist and quilt collector from Ohio.

“While in the Library of the Textile Museum in DC I was seeking a fresh start and was instantly taken by this classic book. The voice used by Ruth Finley is at least half a century before its time. The unapologetic tone was alluring and the sets of parameters created by each of the woman were so relatable, yet full of such bravado. This book has been both honored and demonized in a way that a casual observer might compare to reactions to a modern reality show.”-Keown

Keown established a set of parameters she follows when making the mini-quilts, such as using materials she already has,  working in a small scale, and all work is done impromptu. When finished, Keown plans to have 20 mini quilts and 40 drawings as part of the series.

For more on Emily Keown, visit her website at: