The Source for Contemporary Art Quilts, Exhibitions & Appraisals

M. Joan Lintault

Book by Joan Lintault

M. Joan Lintault is an internationally renowned artist who is among a handful of the original art quilters still at work today.

Lintault's work has been shown in more than 275 exhibitions since she began making quilts in 1965 and has been exhibited at the White House, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the American Craft Museum, the American Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and the Museum of Contemporary Craft. Examples of her work are in the collections of the International Quilt Center & Museum, the Museum of Art & Design in New York City, and the Illinois State Museum, and in numerous other public and private collections.

Like the work of Radka Donnell and Charles Counts, Lintault’s quilts do not look like anything that had come before. Although she collected traditional quilts in the 1960s, she says, “I never wanted to be a traditional quiltmaker.” Instead, because of her background in fine art, she says, “I wanted to use all the elements of art that I was taught, by using thread as line, fabric as shape, and color as [paint].” And, she adds, “I could never understand why there was this deep prejudice against artists who used fabric and fiber. I still don't understand it.”

Lintault explains her reasons and methods of working with cloth this way:  "I begin my work with white fabric because I see its possibilities. Fabric can be used in many different ways. It is an obedient, forgiving material. I want every process and technique that I use to contribute to the content of my work so I dye, print, and paint my own images. The nature of fabric is that it accepts color and so it is more responsive to me. I like to yield to what happens with the process while working.

Fabric is sensual and can be manipulated. It can be made to have weight, mass, and texture. It creates atmosphere by reflecting and changing its appearance in light. For me, the result is a material with the potential for an infinite expansion of expression and form.

I place myself solidly in a textile tradition and because of that I feel free to use any textile technique that would contribute to my work. I look back in history to see where I came from, but the new comes through my experience of working.

As it was with my predecessors, the embroiderers, quilters, and lace makers who worked with fabric and thread, time is not a factor when I work. I do not choose to reject a technique simply because it is laborious. I base my work on geological rather than TV time. I am obsessed with every colored spot of dye and how it looks next to another colored spot."


Born in New York City, Joan Lintault graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 1960 with a degree in Art Education. She also earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics from Southern Illinois University in 1962.

From 1963 to1965 Ms. Lintault worked in the Peace Corps in Quinua and Ayacucho, Peru, in crafts development, where she assisted weavers, knitters, and dyers in improving the quality of their work, introducing fast dyes, and setting up a crafts cooperative. Subsequently, she taught weaving at the Esquela Artisano de Ayacucho, where she designed a four-harness loom, a tapestry loom, and built spinning wheels.

In 1978 Ms. Lintault received an Indo-American Fellowship Research Grant for 9-months study in India. Her project was titled "Textile Co-operatives and Processes of India." She traveled extensively in India in order to observe traditional textile processes. She was also able to observe the function and operation of textile co-operatives and their effects on craftspeople in the village life of India.

In 1984-85 Ms. Lintault received a Fulbright Research Grant for 9-months study in Kyoto, Japan. The grant was titled "The Japanese Art of Kusaki-zome" (grass and tree dyes). The Fulbright research included exploration of the historical background of traditional Japanese dyes and their use with the textile resist techniques of katazome, yuzen, and shibori.

She has taught and lectured on various surface design techniques throughout the USA, Japan, India, China, and Malaysia.

After teaching fiber and textile design at Southern Illinois University for 27 years, Ms. Lintault is currently living and working in upstate New York.

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