About the Artist

Betsy Abbott at work in her living room

Betsy Abbott at work in her living room

All my life, I have been enlivened by the power of story, enriched by the strength of family ties across generations, and imbued with a curiosity to keep open to new ways of thinking and sharing with others. I am an amateur naturalist, a lover of birds and gardens, a person most truly alive in wild places at home and abroad. Professionally, I was an early childhood educator and a bookseller. Before learning to quilt, however, I had never considered myself an artist.  Discovering that I am is one of the greatest joys in my life.

As a lifelong sewer, I am drawn to the colors and textures of fabric and thread.  Long before I ever saw a contemporary fine art quilt, I dreamed of making quilts to tell a story, hold a moment in time, or convey a beautiful image.  But because I had no art background, I did not dare to think that I could create what I saw so clearly in my head.

I was 56 in the summer of 1998 when Paul Niemiec, a prominent Monhegan Island artist, introduced me to Robert Henri’s concept of the art spirit in everyone.  Paul gave me the courage to explore my untapped creativity and “to paint” using the colors, textures, and patterns of fabrics I love. 

Since then, the entire process of quilting has become my passion.  Each quilt invites me to take risks, push my skill level, and try new techniques to communicate my ideas.  Quilting has awakened my latent artistic sensibility.  I observe more closely.  I look carefully at how light and shadow influence color and form.  I challenge myself to create illusions of reflection, transparency, and luminosity using opaque cloth.  I think about perspective and design.  I read widely and take workshops with talented quilt teachers whenever I can.

I make all of my quilts on a Pfaff home sewing machine and use free-motion machine quilting to “needle-paint” further textures and designs into my work.

While I enjoy working with traditional quilt designs, I am drawn to creating landscapes and realistic images which invite the viewer to participate in the mood or story.  I also experiment with including both abstract and traditional elements in my quilts.

I welcome each quilt as a new opportunity for imagination and discovery about myself and our boundless world.

My two, month-long, artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center in February 2016 and February 2018 were unique opportunities for me to explore and expand my creativity and to share my art with other colleagues working in different art disciplines. These experiences have been transformative in my personal and artistic development. 

B.A. Smith College, 1963
M.S.W. Simmons School of Social Work, 1965

A quilt artist since 1999
Amateur naturalist and ornithologist
Avid gardener and storyteller
Lover of wild places and N.E. coastal waters

Early childhood educator and independent bookseller
Retired 2007

Formative Quilting Workshops
Joan Colvin
Ruth McDowell
Barbara Olson
Quilting by the Lake

Artist Residencies
Vermont Studio Center (2016 and 2018)  

Professional Affiliations and Memberships
American Quilter’s Society (since 2000)
International Quilt Association (since 2002)
Quilters’ Connection (since 2002)
Studio Art Quilt Associates (since 2011)

Private Collections
“Tidepool Treasure” in the collection of Jamie Wyeth; “Wild Ravenworld” in the collection of Jamie Wyeth; "Sheer Wild Wonder" in the collection of Jamie Wyeth; "Holding Fast" in the collection of Lynn and Malcolm Best; “Luna Eclipse” in the collection of Elizabeth W. Hartnick

Commercial Sales
Giclée prints and/or art cards of Betsy Abbott’s quilts are currently for sale at Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA; New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, MA; and Lupine Gallery, Monhegan, ME

“Monhegan Island, My Muse,” Art Quilting Studio Summer 2017; “Sheer Wild Wonder,” Art Quilt Elements 2016, Wayne Art Center, PA; “Luna Eclipse,” Quilters Newsletter, April 2007

Solo Shows
“Betsy Abbott Art Quilts, Sheer Wild Wonder,” Lupine Gallery, Monhegan, ME (July 2016);
"A Retrospective," Memorial Hall Library, Andover, MA, October-November 2012

Partial Listing of Juried or Judged Quilt Shows
Betsy Abbott’s quilts have appeared regularly and won awards in regional and national quilt shows, including:  American Quilter’s Society Show, PA; Houston International Quilt Festival, TX; Lowell Quilt Festival, MA;  MQX Quilt Festival New England, NH; Maine Quilt Show, ME; Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, VA; Nashville Quilt Expo, TN; Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, PA; A Quilters’ Gathering, NH; Road to California, CA; Vermont Quilt Show, VT

Juried Gallery Shows
Pathfinders: New Territories, Southern Utah Museum of Art, Cedar City, UT; Art Quilt Elements 2016, Wayne Art Center, Wayne, PA