The Source for Contemporary Art Quilts, Exhibitions & Appraisals

Robin Schwalb stenciling

Robin Schwalb is a New York City native who explores the rich variety of the written word in her graphically compelling quilts and fabric collages. The use of written symbols in her work balances an appreciation of their abstract beauty with the desire to include the "found art" of relevant texts. However, since the natural tendency to read a text disrupts emotional or intuitive responses to her work, Schwalb tries to circumvent this in several ways: by using individual letters or ideograms from exotic or obsolete languages; by using the text decoratively as a repeating pattern in the background; by so cropping and chopping the text that it becomes illegible; or by concealing the text in the quilting. A wry sense of humor informs her choice of images and text, which are manipulated and combined for maximum visual impact. The desire to use specific, personally meaningful images dictates a process-oriented approach. Schwalb transforms her basic material with photo silk-screen printing, stenciling, dyeing, and painting, in addition to the standard repertory of piecing, appliqué, and quilting.

Schwalb studied painting at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she received her BA in 1974, and has worked as an archivist and media tech at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for more than thirty years. Her quilts have been widely shown in both juried and invitational exhibitions in the United States, Europe, and Japan, including Outside/Inside the Box (2012), Crossing Lines: The Many Faces of Fiber (2011), Talking Quilts (2004), and Quilt National '87 - '97, '01, '05, '07, and '13. Her work also has appeared in numerous publications, including The Art Quilt by Robert Shaw, American Craft, The New York Times, Canadian Surfacing Journal, FiberArts, The Detroit News, and Patchwork Quilt Tsushin,and is represented in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan, the Visions Art Museum in San Diego, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum as well as in corporate and private collections, including the John M. Walsh III Collection of Contemporary Art Quilts. Schwalb was awarded a grant by the Empire State Crafts Alliance in 1989 and received the Quilts Japan Prize at Quilt National '05, which was awarded by given by Japanese publisher Nihon Vogue and allowed her to visit and teach a workshop in Japan. The experience of traveling to Japan resulted in several quilts, as had earlier trips to China and Russia.

American Craft article on Robin Schwalb
Read this American Craft magazine cover story about Robin Schwalb (pdf)

Semper Tedium by Sandra Sider
Robin Schwalb is one of four New York artists featured in The Studio Quilt, No. 11: Semper Tedium, The Slow Art of Quiltmaking by Sandra Sider.

Robin Schwalb
As a quiltmaker, Robin Schwalb finds the rigorous limitations of grids liberating.
Watch this Metropolitan Museum of Art "Connections" slide show.

Babel by Robin Schwalb
Beijing by Robin Schwalb
Bella Figura by Robin Schwalb
Bella Figura
Buzzing/Flying by Robin Schwalb

Central Booking by Robin Schwalb
Central Booking

Heroic Optimism by Robin Schwalb
Heroic Optimism
Jive Boss Sweat by Robin Schwalb
Jive Boss Sweat
Lost in Translation by Robin Schwalb
Lost in Translation
Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk by Robin Schwalb
Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk
SPQR by Robin Schwalb
Time Runs Out by Robin Schwalb
Time Runs Out
Your Name Here by Robin Schwalb
Your Name Here

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