Artist Profile

Deborah Fell


Artist Statement

Why do we make art? Specifically, why do we make quilts? In describing my work to a group of young artists, while doing a residency at the Vermont Studio Center, I was asked why I make art quilts. I make art quilts because it is cheaper than the co-pay to the local psychiatric facility. Nobody got it. Creating art allows me to navigate between point A and point B. The world presents us with often impossible situations. Whether those situations are at the global level or at a deeply private level, art allows me to understand things for which there is no control. The combined use of cloth, thread, paper, paint, dye and stitching sings beautiful music. Art gives me hope and strength to believe in myself and keep going, even when it seems hopeless. Holding cloth and thread allows me to have control in my tiny corner of the world. Creating art is my strategy to get through those impossible times. Art is my connection to the world. My voice is heard through cloth and thread.

Bio / Description

Deborah Fell is a full-time studio artist committed to the quilt medium. She is a professional member of the Studio Art Quilt Associates, and Art Quilt Network. Deborah’s art focuses on abstract, organic shapes while using surface treatments such as dyeing, painting, photography, and reclaimed materials. Deborah has been a professional educator for over 30 years. Besides teaching at risk high school students in a public high school setting, Deborah has taught various art workshops at national symposiums such as Art Quilt Tahoe and Empty Spools at Asilomar in Monterey, California. Deborah obtained a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University as well as graduate work at University of Illinois, University of New Hampshire, and a fellowship at Northwestern University. In 2010 Deborah was asked to assist the host of CBS’s television show, Extreme Home Makeover, in creating the art piece for the master bedroom project for the new house build in the east central Illinois area. The fall of 2011 Deborah was an Artist-in-Residence at the Mendocino Arts Center in Mendocino, California. In 2012 Deborah started teaching art quilt related courses at the University of Illinois through OLLI program. The winter 2012 issue of Art Quilting Studio featured Deborah’s work on the front cover. In 2013 Deborah completed an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. Deborah was an Artist-in-Residence at the Nantucket School of Design and the Arts in the summer of 2016, along with the Vermont Studio Center in the fall of 2017. Deborah was the featured artist for the January 2017 Patchwork Professional in Germany, which featured an architectural series focusing on German architectural elements. Art exhibit openings in South Africa in 2014, Holland in 2015, and France and Cape Town in 2017, continue to strengthen Deborah’s art visibility at the international level. Deborah’s art quilt in Visions 2018 won the Quilts Japan Prize, along with teaching in Tokyo in 2019, and Australia in 2023. Deborah’s most recent work won a Juror’s Choice Award at Quilt National 2021 in Athens, Ohio. Deborah is honored to have won the Award of Excellence in Quilt National 2023.