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Artist's Statement

Haven’t we all wrapped ourselves in fabrics for comfort or protection, identity or style?  Coveted them, tossed them in the trash, even judged others by their use of them? Who hasn’t sensed past voices when handling faded vintage pieces? Yet, what’s more immediate and compelling than the energy of freshly hand dyed colors?

I work in textiles because I’m drawn to the unique voice of each fabric.  They’re ubiquitous but intriguing, almost always pliable, often strong, other times delicate, occasionally both.  They’re usually willing to contort themselves into practically any form or shade I need, while still imparting that sense of past lives mixed with a saturation of new, colorful energy.


Brilliant, freshly hand dyed sheer silks allow me to pile layer on layer to gain a glorious changeable translucency, then to gently hold them in place with delicate metallic stitches.  Sturdy or even flimsy vintage fabrics, heavy with past lives, will cooperate with highly-controlled piecing, followed by lines of meditative concentric stitching that secures their role within a piece.


Because we’re each so intimately familiar with textiles, they can serve as personal lenses on public stories.  I can thread a vintage fabric’s complex voice into a piece reverberating with fresh color and metallics in order to give context to a contemporary story that may be beautiful or violent – or even both. 


In fact, historically and today, so often it is the energy escaping in the seconds between vibrant beauty and violent devastation, as well as the resilience of that beauty as it emerges from punishing violation and darkness, that confronts us all while captivating me. 


Working in textiles allows me to capture that energy and resilience.  Each piece of fabric is imbued with its own complex history, however brief or long.  Every fabric, and, by extension each of my completed pieces, carries with it the reverberating memories of its own inspiration and creation, memories that are threaded together so that we might wrap ourselves in them today.



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Artist Statement

About the Artist

Carol’s fascination with color springs from a lifetime spent mostly on the coast of California. As a child growing up in a Santa Barbara home which prized creativity, she learned to sew with her mother and grandmother.  After an undergraduate degree from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and graduate degree from Pepperdine University, Los Angeles, she lived and taught in Laguna Beach while raising her daughter.  A couple of intervening years were spent living in a village in Suffolk, England, and in a flat just a few feet from the Seine in Paris.


Now retired from teaching but still living in Laguna Beach with retired pilot husband Roger and dogs Higgs and Zephyr, Carol is fortunate to focus on fiber arts and dote on grandson Rowan. 


She completed the Art Cloth Mastery program with Jane Dunnewold in order to advance her understanding of color and textiles, and earlier studied with Ruth MacDowell to explore techniques in structuring works in fiber.  Her work is in private collections and she has exhibited across the United States.


Branch Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

Rose Gallery, San Diego, CA

New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, MA

CA 101, Redondo Beach, CA

California Center for the Arts, Escondido, CA

Studio 203, Los Angeles, CA

Beatrice Woods Center for the Arts, Ojai, CA

Palos Verdes Art Alliance, Palos Verdes, CA

Soka University, Aliso Viejo, CA

Cannon Gallery, Carlsbad, CA

Quilt Shows:

Palm Springs, Ontario; Long Beach, San Diego, CA;

Reno, NV; Salt Lake City, UT; Savannah, GA; Houston, TX;

West Palm Beach, FL; Cincinnati, OH; Philadelphia, PA;

Oklahoma City, OK; Edison, NJ


B.A., Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR

M.A., Pepperdine University, Los Angeles, CA

Art Cloth Mastery Program, Jane Dunnewold, San Antonio, TX


California Fibers

Quilts on the Wall

Bent Needle Collective

Surface Design Association

Studio Art Quilt Associates

Blogspot Carol Nilsen Fiberworks



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