Maine Fiberarts is displaying the unique artistry and creative appliqué design quilts of late artist Jeanne-Marie Robinson (1938-2010), formerly of Northport. “Animal Appliqué: Quilts by Jeanne-Marie Robinson” is on view through April 30 at Maine Fiberarts Center/Gallery, 13 Main St.

A reception, open to the public, will take place Saturday, April 17 from 2 to 5 p.m. and will serve as a celebration of the artist’s life and work.

Robinson transferred her skills of artistry, discipline, teaching and creativity from her career as a ballet dancer to her passion for quilting. Beginning as a traditional quilter using traditional patterns, she quickly began using her original designs in art quilts, exhibiting widely in quilt shows and in art galleries in both Maine and Florida. She was a member of several guilds including the Friendship Sampler Quilters of Belfast and the statewide Art Quilts Maine. As a student, she frequently took classes to expand her knowledge and techniques and, as a teacher, she often taught classes in order to share her ideas and skills, always being helpful, patient, generous and inspiring.

Robinson’s Swiss and French heritage and her background in drawing, painting and collage, enriched her quilting. With her expertise in needle-turn appliqué compositions, an extension of her earlier works in collage, she truly found her niche in art quilting. The rich and complex surfaces of her work exhibited a delightful sense of color and design. Her themes were often beautiful landscapes and whimsical animals, both revealing her mastery of hand needlework – such as quilting, embroidery, and appliqué – and her use of beading, found objects and other embellishments.

Her landscapes were raw-edge/tulle pieces with meticulous detail. Her animal pieces were hand appliquéd and filled with unexpected, a little gecko looking out at the viewer or a frog peeking from under a leaf. Her creatures, whether images of animals drawn by her daughter Maya or from her own vivid imagination, always were infused with life. She often gave her artwork French names, and the names given by her husband Ralph added even more whimsy.

Robinson is widely known for her participation in quilt challenges, a quilter’s opportunity to compete with others, often for prizes, to create an original artistic work in fabric. She was excited to participate, whether the contest was hosted by the local quilt shop or offered through the world-renowned annual Hoffman Challenge. Due to one Hoffman Challenge acceptance, her work is still traveling through exhibitions in the United States and in Canada.

It was no accident that Robinson was the first to hold the title of Quilter of the Year in 2003, a title bestowed by votes from the many quilters in Maine. She had earned it. She was a prolific artist who was loved, respected and admired by many people. This exhibition affords an opportunity to view a retrospective of Robinson’s appliquéd art quilts.

Established in the year 2000, Maine Fiberarts is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance Maine fiber in all its aspects through networking, exhibitions, education and advocacy. Exhibitions at the Topsham Center/Gallery change every two months and are open to the public weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information or to see a preview of the show, visit mainefiberarts.org; or call 721-0678.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.