Countless crafts carry a special meaning for their makers, an innate woven pocket that brings both happiness and pride. Quilting is one art form in particular that speaks to these truths. One notable Rochester native has taken this art form and given it her own spin.
Emily Bellinger is a multifaceted artist who ingeniously uses contemporary quilting techniques and methods of print media to create modernized art. Elevating her pieces by layering them with in depth storylines that come to life through incorporating abstract elements, her products also serve as artistic statements. Within her online store, one can find quilted tote bags, purses, mini backpacks, wristlets, clutches, and even fannypacks. However, she doesn’t just stop there. Creating a number of various other products, Bellinger’s renowned craftsmanship, attention to detail, and artistic flare ring true from piece to piece. Using a wide array of hand printed fabrics along with other fabric materials, each stitch, choice of color, and placement is highly intentional. Emily is not one to stick to premade patterns or predetermined design; every linear mark and arrangement cohesively comes together to uncover an abstract narrative.
Growing up in a household where both quilting and a sewing machine were present, Emily first learned how to sew at a young age. She fell in love with the craft by watching her mother and ended up picking it up herself and creating her own little pieces in no time. From around the age of ten and on, she was hooked. Receiving her BFA from Alfred University, she had the opportunity of trying her hand with multiple mediums. Intrigued by the process and work ethic, she wanted to commit to finding a sustainable practice that she could carry out from her own home. Emily wanted to wed the beauty of fiber and sewing into her artistic vision and practice and after working endlessly at it, it soon evolved into her signature craft.
The inspiration for Emily's abstract storytelling is gathered from various outlets, one of which being her past experiences. Pulling on the emotions of prior relationships, she uses those forces to help shape her pieces. Within the past year, Bellinger truly started to incorporate her quilting work into her business by bridging the two together through her mastered specialty of improvisational piecing. This technique does not follow the traditional routine of block base patterns, but instead, gives the artist the liberty of free composition. While creating, this stirs up a tango of the pieces, ensuing a back and forth dance of endless moves and options.
Bellinger shares that one major contributing factor to her success here has been the local Rochester art scene. With a welcoming atmosphere and overwhelming response, she states that “the people in Rochester really show up for artists.” Radiating from craft shows and vendors, art within the 585 is treasured. Within ROC lies a “...nice sense of community and local pride.” Seeing this come to life not only through the support of individuals who stop by, but also through fellow artists is nothing short of uplifting. The comradery that has been built here and continues to grow is restoring and something that we look forward to seeing more of.
Emily looks forward to experimenting more in 2020, potentially with learning how to make paper out of fabric scraps. Bellinger shares that “I think that it would be a really fun way to upcycle my waste...I’m trying to be more sustainable, utilize scraps, and am trying to save the planet one moment at a time.” Emily also shares her love for quilting by teaching a beginners quilting course at RIT as an adjunct professor. In addition, she also has her own lecture on the art of self-promotion. The innovation and creativity that her students bring is something that she finds rejuvenating and wholesome, noting that “people are genuinely passionate about what they are making... seeing what my students have been making is very inspiring.”
For those who are interested in entering the world of quilting, but may be unsure, Emily says the best way is to “just start!” Don’t overthink it or worry about being perfect, just give it a go and grow from there. Doing exactly that, Emily found a way to take her passion and turn it into a career. Now who wouldn’t want that! By creating her own brand, she is able to insert herself within the project, explaining that “my brand identity is my personality.” With multiple appearances in distinguished exhibits both regionally and nationally, backed by an impressive CV, the work of Emily Bellinger is one that everyone should seek out
and keep on their radar.
Emily will be at The Yards this weekend (December 14th and 15th) from 10am- 2pm for her final craft show of the season. So come on down, get crafty, and grab a special holiday gift... or two.