TROY — The quilts of Helen Willis of Troy will be on display Oct. 8 though Nov. 25 at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center.
Willis’ quilts offer a look at her varied interests, as seen when viewing the velvet-soft black bear, crisp origami peace-cranes, detailed architecture, trees, nursery rhymes and autumn collages.
“When I first met Leona Sargent from Hayner, I was just finishing the little quilt called ‘October in My Favorite Color.’ She asked me to organize a show for the first-floor exhibit case. So, I took on the challenge of putting together examples all my favorite quilting techniques and subjects in a space measuring 5-foot-by-7-foot-by-18-inches,” Willis said. “Leona and I decided to call the show ‘October is My Favorite Color.’”
The exhibit contains quilts made by Willis over the last 40 years — the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s. The fabrics, techniques and subjects illustrate some of the changes in quilting throughout those years. Willis likes all types of quilting: hand and machine quilting; piecing and appliqué; modern and traditional.
One quilt in the exhibit, “74 Green Street” was made for another exhibit, which has been postponed by the pandemic. That show, “Welcome Home to the Oregon District,” was originally scheduled for June 2020 at Woodbourne Library in Centerville. It has been postponed until April 2021. That show will have 20 quilts made by Willis and 10 of her friends.
Willis also is working on three other shows scheduled to open in the next 24 months. The first one is called “Images of 9-11.” She and her friends are making art quilts that capture the events and memorials associated with the 20 years since Sept. 11, 2oo1. This show will open at Woodbourne Library in September 2021.
In October 2021, Willis’ Native America quilts based on two paintings by George McCown of Lenoir City, Tenn., will be exhibited at the Village Quilters Show in Tellico Village, Tenn. This will be the first time McCown will see the quilts in person. Willis discovered his artwork while living in Tennessee from 2008-2018. The quilts were finished after moving back to Ohio in 2018.
The third show is “Welcome Home to Troy,” which will open at Hayner Center in April 2022. She and her friends will make quilts of the homes and other sites that remind Troy residents of their city.
Willis is a member of several quilting groups including Miami Valley Art Quilt Network, Batty Binders Quilt Guild of West Milton, Miami Valley Quilt Guild and Village Quilters of Loudon, Tenn. Many of the friends that participate in the shows she organizes are members of these groups.
Willis signs all her quilts “Helen of Troy” and adds the date and location where the quilt was made. Almost all of the quilts and home decor items in the exhibit are available for purchase.
Some may recognize Helen Willis’ name because of the many years she worked at Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Throughout her time at Riverside, she the director of children’s programs and later she administered service coordination for all people who receive services and funding through the board.