Tucked away in a small Montana town……by Kristin McNamara Freeman

Embroidery by Marjory Hiltner 10265302_10152314257021676_8431305616118869630_oThis spring when I received a newsletter from the Danforth Gallery in Livingston, Montana, a surprise discovery of an artist working in fabric appeared on the pages. As I went looking for more information about the woman who created the work of fiber art pictured above, it became clear to me that somehow in the small population state of Montana a fiber artist, like me, seems to imagine that we know of all the working textile artists in the state. It was my pleasure to discover that Maggy Rozycki Hiltner lives in the small town of Red Lodge which is south of Interstate 90 and is often reached as the terminus of a drive over the Beartooth Hiway that begins at Cooke City near the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park; a place I could visit on a day trip.

In this small rural and somewhat isolated town Maggy creates her fiber pieces using images cut from pieces of vintage embroidery or images she has embroidered by  using patterns from the 20’s, 30′, 40’s and 50’s. These embroidery patterns were often found on the pages of women’s magazines such as”Women’s Home Companion”, “Needlecraft”, “Peterson’s” or “Ladies Home Journal” to name a few of the resources you can still find on Etsy or Ebay today. Back in my younger years a trip to the local “five and dime” store would be the resource for books of design transfers which could be ironed on to fabric or there was always a supply of stamped kitchen towels and pillow cases that could be purchased. The thread most often used was a six strand cotton embroidery floss. Sometimes today you can find a collection of embroidered and/or appliqued household pieces at thrift stores and garage sales. If the stitching needs some repairing the same cotton floss used 50 years ago is still sold and can be used to make some repairs, if desired. It is these used, older pieces of embroidery that Maggie finds and uses to create her artwork today.

In a wonderful interview on the blog:

http://www.mrxstitch.com/future-heirlooms/.  the  interviewer gives a wonderful description of how the artist’s work impacted the author.

“I do not remember when I first came across the work of today’s artist Maggy Rozycki Hiltner but I do know that I immediately enjoyed it. She uses nostalgic figures and imagery to make some playful but poignant remarks about childhood, gender, expectations, friendships, sex, and love. Her technique is a unique blend of collage with found materials, hand embroidery, machine stitch, and applique. Her humor is clever and at times biting. Her work is fabulous.” The article also includes many photos of her artwork.
Maggie graduated from Syracuse University in 1997, was Studio Assistant in fibers and textile design at Arrowmont School  of Arts and Crafts in 1998. and has had her work shown across the country since then in solo, group and invitational shows. She has an extensive list of publications where her work has been included in photos and text. A busy, talented woman creating textile art in her studio in this small rural town of Red Lodge, Montana.
A visit to her web site.. .www.maggyrhiltner.com/index.html  will have you reading and exploring the heart and art of this artist. Here, from her website in a small vignette from one of her pieces. She currently, through September 1st, has work showing at the Dairy Barn in Athens, OH, and will have work in the following shows (from her website):

Quilt Visions Biennial 2014
October 3, 2014 to January 4, 2015
Visions Arts Museum
San Diego, CA
visit the Visions Arts Museum website
see work to be included in the exhibition

Solo Exhibition
April 24 to August 16, 2015
Dr. Ruth Tam Lim Project Room
Mesa Arts Center
Mesa, AZ
visit the Mesa Arts Center website

Focus: Fiber 2014
September 26, 2014 to January 18, 2015
Erie Art Museum
Erie, PA
visit the Erie Art Museum website

A Common Thread: Stitching and Embroidery
March 7 to July 5, 2015
San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
San Jose, CA
visit the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles website

If you will be near one of the shows her work is sure to delight the exploring, playful artist within each of us. For some, it will be the remembering of the  images she uses from our days as a child or young adult, or even those times when we have picked up and been tempted to buy a piece or two of embroidered household linens.

Other artists have included pieces of vintage embroidery in their work, Sue Reno, http://www.suereno.com/ showed pieces of her work incorporating vintage linens in a recent article for Quilting Arts and Deb Lacativa uses vintage linens for the cloth she dyes for sale and in the work she creates http://lacativa.com/ and http://morewgalo.blogspot.com/ . 

What pure delight to discover an unknown to me textile artist living in a small Montana town. An artist whose work reaches from coast to coast here in the USA and brings a new vision to those who see her work.










6 Responses to “Tucked away in a small Montana town……by Kristin McNamara Freeman”

  1. 1 Sue Reno August 20, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Thanks for this, there’s a lot here to consider.

  2. 2 olganorris August 18, 2014 at 12:53 am

    My initial response is that this artist’s work is definitely cynical if not political. In the linked interview she says:
    “I’m always looking for the truth behind a scene-those saccharine children’s books are just asking to be exposed! I like setting a pleasant scene, a universal scene with them, maybe reeling in a viewer to a comfortable place and then telling a kind of icky story. Icky is interesting.”

    I remember those ‘saccharine’ days when my father would crawl on the floor tracing patterns onto sheets for my pregnant mother to embroider for my soon to be born brother. They had very little money, but loved making things for themselves which were special compared with the hand-me-downs, which they also treasured because they had been made by relatives. Somehow, although superficially clever, I find the subversion of such work in such delighted-in quantity a kind of empty self indulgence. I wonder if a series of such works makes a point; but a whole oeuvre somehow smacks of lack of true artistic imagination – ?

    Thank you for starting off this ponder for me Kristen.

    • 3 snicklefritzin43 August 18, 2014 at 7:24 am

      Olga, I, too, have some fond and wonderful memories of making my own set of linens for my hope chest, for learning my stitches as I embroidered small little flannel gowns for newborns in the family and of friends. With now about 15 years of exhibitions in her vitae it will be interesting to see where her “vision” goes and if there is a shift in her work to another theme at some point. For me it was the discovery and exploration of her story and work that prompted the piece for RCC.

  3. 4 snicklefritzin43 August 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Clairan….From my point of view I see her work as incorporating images and memories of the past, a bit of nostalgia, amd the pieces I was able to see made, I believe social commentary. Now if this is to be considered political, I do not know for sure. I will do some more poking around and see if I can get a better answer for you.

    • 5 snicklefritzin43 August 18, 2014 at 7:20 am

      On her web page under the bio tab is her written account of how she “views” her work. A good place to begin exploring what these works represent – yet probably the best response would come when viewing a piece with our own eyes and have our own response.

  4. 6 clairan August 17, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Kristen, I am interested in knowing whether her work is nostalgic and “retro” or does it have a political or social agenda?

Comments are currently closed.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 221 other subscribers


%d bloggers like this: