In the current exhibition at the Halsey Institute, Coulter Fussell’s The Raw Materials of Escape examines the traditional themes of painting in a new and unique way. Coulter has an innate ability to speak with color. In this exhibition, she uses textiles in a way that is conventionally more similar to painting than quilting. Instead of repeating patterns and fabrics, Coulter uses donated textiles to create works of art that imitate paint in terms of gesture and color.
One example of this from her show is in her piece The Numbers, 2019. The piece is 83 x 51 inches in size, and it hangs flat on the wall, as would a painting. The piece itself has no clear beginning and end. It has a beautiful collection of orange and rose-colored tones in the upper right-hand corner. These shades gradually get lighter as the piece extends to the ground, moving downwards in alternating fabrics of rose and ivory. On the left side of the piece are two sections of color, separated into a top and bottom. The top section is a collection of white and off-white fabrics, some containing images of horses or words. In the bottom section of the piece is a collection of black fabrics along with some black and white prints and some deep tones. In some of the darker fabrics are marigold colored numbers that look similar to the orange bits of fabric in the upper right-hand corner of the piece. Along with the variances in color, there are also strong differences in fabric texture. This contrast in texture further gives life to the piece, creating a story with the fabrics designated to specific locations of the quilt. In their uncommon placement, there still exists uniformity in the collection of these loose pieces of fabric woven together to become one. Like a painting they are used to tell a story with color and texture that is completely unique to Coulter Fussell.
By Caroline Anderson, Halsey Institute intern