New textiles exhibit features work of three women artists

Phyllis Moore's "Great Aunt Ruth." (Photo by Harlan Heald)
Phyllis Moore's "Great Aunt Ruth." (Photo by Harlan Heald)

Three Nebraska women artists are featured in "Imperfect Pattern/Relative Embellishment," an exhibition opening today in the Hillestad Textiles Gallery.

The exhibit, open through April 27, showcases the work of Rebecca Williams, Phyllis Moore and Susan Bertino. The trio explores family history and personal environment using textile materials in unconventional ways. Pattern resonates across each artist's work with quilted fabric, embroidery, beads, structure and native materials.

Williams has been fascinated with the continuity of pattern expressed across time and cultures and has found a variety of ways to express these patterns with her unique voice. Lately, her work has involved printing complex prairie-inspired patterns onto fabric, layered atop embellished prairie grasses she collects on her land near Bennet. She has also found inspiration from her Czech heritage. Floral patterns taken from everyday folk wear become part of her vocabulary.

Moore has created a covey of great aunts in fiber. The magnum opus of her creations is Great Aunt Ruth who was six feet tall with an art textile of the same height. In contrast, Great Aunt Sudie, who was tiny and stooped, looks like an aged Sunbonnet Sue. The working patterns for the great aunts were torn from paper. Added texture for the art comes from butcher paper, wrapping paper, tissue paper and brown corrugated tree wrap. Her visual images are drawn from the imagination, and the few facts known about these women of her family.

Bertino lavishly embroiders surfaces with beads, semi-precious stones, pearls, copper and bone to create narratives of both global and personal tales. For example, when her mother asked her to stitch a bag in browns, she did. She says, "Being part Cherokee Indian, it was only natural to place a bear wandering below the moon in the woods. The bear is a symbol of protection in Native American beliefs."

The Friends of the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery will host a reception in the gallery from 5 to 7 p.m. April 6, commencing a series of First Friday open evenings. The gallery is on the second floor of the Home Economics Building. Admission is free.

For more information, go to or call 402-472-2911.

— Wendy Weiss, Textiles, Clothing and Design