Having been brought up in a home where sewing was paramount, it is no surprise that Belford now combines her love of art and sewing in a new career in quilting. It was after moving up to Chenango Forks, New York, that her interest in quilting was sparked.

It was while browsing through a fabric store in December 1999 that Belford stumbled upon art quilting. “It was as if I were struck by lightning,” she explains. “I loved sewing and I loved painting. The art quilt combined the two. That was all I needed. Off I went exploring this new avenue.”

Inspired by Deidre Scherer’s portrait of an elderly couple, she set out to make a quilt of her own deceased parents.

“I loved working on that piece,” Belford remembers with a smile. “I ‘talked to them’ as I worked on it. It was as if they gave it to me.” My Parents was an immediate success, winning prizes wherever it was shown.

iLove the Arts

“A face expresses much emotion,” said Belford. “It can tell a complete story in a single viewing. I try to stitch a personality rather than just a face. It is in the details that the emotions rest. I try to give my students the technical background to enable them to produce a portrait in fabric that makes their loved ones seem to breathe.”

When you view Marilyn Belford’s quilts you can’t help but be impressed by her deep artistic background. Her use of colors and shapes is amazing in its evocative effect. The finished pieces exude her boldness in design and vision.

“I have always had a penchant for the dramatic,” Belford admits. “Plays such as Medea, music by Beethoven, and paintings like Guernica by Picasso and German expressionism have always been my preferences. Strong colors like reds and yellows make me tingle.”

iLove the Arts

Her works have been shown at the AQS show in Paducah, as well as other large national shows and in many museums. They have won many awards. Belford has been teaching at Quilt University since 2003. She has written an article on her method for Chitra Publication’s magazine Quilting Today, has been featured in ARTSmagazine.

In her quilting Marilyn draws on both her artistic training in New York City and her rich Jewish heritage to create her colorful work.

“My love of fabric is an extension of my love of color, texture, and shapes,” she says. “Fabric in itself is a tool, just like paint is a tool. I use whatever tool is necessary to reproduce the vision inside of me. I enjoy searching out fabric all over the vicinity that will make the appropriate statement for me. I spend delightful hours looking for “angry” fabrics, or “biblical” colors, or for fabrics that will look like an unshaven face.”

This love and care for her work resonates with those who see the quilts, praise and prizes coming wherever the sewing is shown. 

National Quilt Museum

NQM in-facility and touring exhibits are annually viewed by over 115,000 quilt and art enthusiasts. The museum is a global destination, welcoming visitors from all 50 US states and over 40 foreign countries on a yearly basis. Visitors experience three galleries of extraordinary quilt and fiber art rotated 7-8 times per year so there is always something new to see. nThe museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10 am-5 pm and Sundays from 1-5 pm. It is located at 215 Jefferson Street.