New Curator’s Plans on Display at the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum

“It’s not every day that a museum hires a curator,” is the quote that became the catalyst for the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Art Museum’s new exhibit, Shift Change. After a year of coordinating pre-existing exhibitions, organizing shows from the Museum’s permanent collection and filling in calendar gaps where possible, the Museum is proud to present the first start-to-finish group exhibition, put together by its new curator, Brian Nigus.

Shift Change not only refers to a new staff member starting their “shift,” it also references the shift that happens at a museum when a new curator is hired, acknowledging the reality of a different perspective and a broader selection of artists.  

Zak Foster and Heidi Parkes, YES MORE PLEASE!; 2023; repurposed materials, mixed fabrics, thread, construction equipment; hand appliquéd, hand pieced, hand embroidered, hand quilted; 45 x 45 in.

Lee Davignon, Clam Shack Shimmy; 2021; wool, cotton, ribbon, reclaimed plastics, thread, PVA glue; woven; 14 x 10 in.

When I was first hired in February 2023, I was eager to meet and exchange thoughts with staff and volunteers. I created private Pinterest boards of artists to share with our small team, discussing ideas and exploring the interests of the community I was coming into. That’s to say, I don’t quilt or make fiber art, but I did go to school for sculpture, worked in art education, and co-directed a gallery. At any rate, a resulting side-effect to this process was also making sure the job would be a good fit, whether I would have to wear a “mask,” or whether I could be myself in garnering support for exhibits and artists. Since this exhibition is a “go,” I know at the very least, the Museum has my back, and I’m looking forward to what others think, too!

Shift Change includes 21 artists from across the US and Canada, all of them working in quilt and fiber arts, the Museum’s namesake mediums, and all of them first-time exhibitors at the Museum. In particular, the exhibition includes modern and contemporary quilting, weaving, knitting, punch-needle, sculptures, as well as other fiber art forms. 

The exhibition fills the second floor of the Museum and artworks that wouldn’t typically exhibit together create unique discussions that stem from the diverse sampling of work, as well as the diversity of the artists’ own backgrounds and identities. Each artwork is also accompanied by an artist biography, encouraging the community to explore the artists further.

Julian Jamaal Jones, Melodies from Heaven pt1. (Kirk Franklin); 2023; calico cotton, satin cotton, plush velvet, denim; quilted; 26 x 33 in.

The exhibitors have a combined resume that includes, but is not limited to, being in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, the National Quilt Museum, and the Cranbrook Art Museum; solo exhibitions at the National Quilt Museum, Bellevue Arts Museum, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft; artist residencies at the Recology King County Program, the Soulangh Cultural Park in Taiwan, and the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts; multiple invitees of the Dairy Barn Art Center’s Quilt National, the creator of A$ap Rocky’s 2021 Met Gala reveal, and a Neddy Award Finalist.  The artists have a combined following of more than a half a million followers on Instagram.

When we started talking about a “first” show, our executive director and I recognized a contrast in the artists on my Pinterest boards compared to past exhibitors, and questioned whether launching immediate solo exhibitions might be too abrupt. So, we decided a group show would be the best “formal” introduction to clearly say, here’s what’s to come!

Shift Change runs from March 6, 2024 through April 28, 2024. Exhibiting artists include: Liv Aanrud, Max Adrian, Margot Becker, Jes Le Bon, Lee Davignon, Julie Sevilla Drake, Audrey Esarey, Zak Foster, Julian Jamaal Jones, Millicent Kennedy, Chawne Kimber, Taylor Krz, Mashanda Lazarus, Marc Manke, Amanda Nadig, Heidi Parkes, Helen Parsons, Kendall Ross, Allyson Rousseau, Joey Veltkamp, and Adeline Wang. 

Kendall Ross, Product Placement; 2023; wool; hand knit; 26 x 28 in. 

Max Adrian, Constellation Quilt (Eccentric Stars); 2021; pleather, athletic mesh, grommets, chain, hardware; quilted; 36 x 36 in. 

Liv Aanrud, Plot Twist Two; 2023; yarn on monks’ cloth; punch needle; 26 x 23 in.

The Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum is located in La Conner, Washington, one-and-a-half hours north of Seattle, and is open Wednesday through Sunday 11a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum resides on the land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. With gratitude, the Museum honors their stewardship of these lands since time immemorial to the present day. This land acknowledgement does not take the place of authentic relationships with Indigenous communities.


Brian Nigus is an artist, writer and Curator for the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum.

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