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Detail of Lords and Ladies Elizabeth Gurrier
Cassandra Case by Elizabeth Gurrier

Elizabeth (Betty) Gurrier was a pioneering textile artist who is best known for her whimsical, intricately stitched whitework quilts and soft sculptures. She participated in many of the seminal exhibitions of non-traditional quilts in the 1970s, where her sculptural whitework and complex machine quilting astonished viewers and fellow artists alike. Her work has been exhibited internationally at museums and galleries and is included in the collections of the Renwick Gallery of the American Museum of Art/Smithsonian Institution, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

Gurrier received a B. A. in Art History at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, after which she spent two years in the New York City business world, taking evening courses in copper enameling, ceramics and silk screening. After marrying Bob Gurrier, her husband of fifty-six years, they moved to West Hartford, CT and raised three children. She also did graduate work in education at St. Joseph's College in West Hartford; continued courses in design, figure study, and sculpture at the University of Hartford; and exhibited sculpture in juried shows and galleries in Connecticut.

Before moving to New Hampshire, however, a stitchery seminar sent her in a new direction, and she ultimately abandoned her career as a sculptor in favor of creating soft sculpture figures, wall hangings, and quilts. After several years of working with colored fabrics, she began imposing a new discipline--that of designing strictly with off-white fabrics, primarily unbleached muslin. Only the softest and most subtle touches of color were introduced in her stitchery. She used both hand and machine stitchery, along with quilting, trapunto and stuffing. The intention was to create light and shade as a “hard” sculptor would do. Without the emotional impact of color, the essence of the design became the interplay between texture and form. “Without color and the emotional response it brings, the design itself must do the communicating,” Gurrier explained. She usually machine stitched and quilted her work, whether a wall hanging, bed covering,soft sculpture figure, or handbag, but the comical faces—a common element in her creations—were always hand-stitched without a pattern.

Michael James, who featured examples of Gurrier's whitework in his books The Quiltmaker's Handbook and The Second Quiltmaker's Handbook, described it as pushing "stuffed work to its limit as soft sculpture," and added: "Historically, rich detail and exquisite workmanship were hallmarks of the all-white quilt. Elizabeth Gurrier carries on this tradition in [her] innovative pieces."

In the late 1980s, Gurrier moved in still another new direction, designing one-of-a-kind hand painted quilts. Like her whitework, these were made of wholecloth muslin, which she painted with textile pigments, adding hand and machine quilting and often embroidery and stuffed work as well. While her painted work is far less well known than her whitework, it is equally inventive and remarkable, as are the many soft sculpture figures, pillows, boxes, handbags, and other forms she made during her long artistic career.

Available Work by Elizabeth Gurrier

Stuffed, Quilted and Embroidered Whitework Quilts and Wall Hangings

Lords & Ladies at Westminster Abbey by Elizabeth Gurrier
Lords & Ladies
(Westminster Abbey)


Garden Wall (detail)
Detail of Primeval Images by Elizabeth Gurrier
Primeval Images (detail)
Detail of Gothic Garden by Elizabeth Gurrier
Gothic Garden (detail)
Panel by Elizabeth Gurrier
Gothic Study by Elizabeth Gurrier
Gothic Study
Detail of Lord & Ladies by Elizabeth Gurrier
Lords & Ladies

Untitled (Lord & Lady)
Detail of The Meweing by Elizabeth Gurrier
The Meeting (detail)
Detail of Catch a Falling Star by Elzabth burrierCatch a Falling Star (detail)
Detail of Christmas by Elzabeth Gurrier
Christmas (detail)
Detail of Vaariation 4 by Elzabth Gurrier
Variation 4 (detail)

Hand Painted Wholecloth Quilts, Many with Stuffed Work and Embroidery

Tick Tac Talk by Elizabeth Gurrier
Tic Tac Talk

Leaving by Elizabeth GurrierLeaving by Elizabeth Gurrier
Greeting the Sun
Grandeur Apartments by Elizabeth Gurrier
Grandeur Apartments
by Elizabeth Gurrier
Fragments I

Struggling in the Mosaics by Elizabeth Gurrier
Struggling in the Mosaics

Untitled I
Crazy Quilt by Elizabeth Gurrier
Untitled II
 Quilt by Elizabeth Gurrier
Untitled III

Untitled IV SOLD

Untitled V
Terraced Gardens by Elzabeth Gurrier
Terraced Gardens

Soft Sculpture Figures

Angel by Elizabeth Gurrier
Angel #1
The Band by Elzabeth Gurrier
The Band
Angel by Elizabeth Gurrier
Angel #2
Cowboy by Elizabeth Gurrier
Daring Acrobats by Elizabeth Gurrier
The Daring Acrobats
Red Lady by Elizabeth Gurrier
Lady in Red
Knock Kneed Woman
Knock Kneed Woman
Frenchman by Elizabeth Gurrier
Woman in Stripes by Elizabeth Gurrier
Woman in Striped Shirt & Leggings

Stuffed work boxes, handbags, pillows, and other forms

Cassandra Case by Elizabeth Gurrier
Cassandra Jewelry Box
Four Vace Pillow by Elizabeth Gurrier
Four Face Pillow #1

Four Face Pillow by Elizabeth Gurrier
Four Face Pillow #2
Angle Box by Elizabeth Gurrier
Angel Jewelry Box

Angel Pillow
Bag Lady by Elizabeth Gurrier
Her Bag (close up)
Bag Man by Elizabeth Gurrier
His Bag (close up)
Sunflower by Elizabeth Gurrier
Sunflower with Faces

Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

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Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

Bottom left and right: Toward Barred Island (detail) by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade