Story Quilts by Rumi O’Brien

Crossing Mountains and Other Adventures: Story Quilts by Rumi O’Brien

January 22 – March 5, 2017

Rumi O’Brien is that rare storyteller who can transport you to another time and place, introduce you to a colorful cast of characters, and spin an epic tale without ever saying a word.  Her stories are told with fabric, needle, thread, and thimble – tools and materials that work together to create the whimsical quilts that are her signature.  These story quilts center on the theme of adventure, both the everyday and the existential, as Rumi and her friends dig ponds, hunt for morel mushrooms, make friends with fish, cross mountains, and dance on Jello.

As a Japanese-American, Rumi expertly combines the folk art traditions of both countries to create a hybrid quilting style of her very own.  Inspired by American folk quilts, Rumi began quilting in the early 1980s.  She found immediate success with her first quilt, The Journey Home, pieced and appliquéd with beautiful Japanese katazome fabrics and hand-quilted with a bold nature-based design.  It also marks the first appearance of the diamond-faced hero of so many of Rumi’s stories: a cloth version of yakko-san, a traditional origami design based on the human figure.

“Crossing Mountains and Other Adventures” gathers together 16 of Rumi’s story quilts as well as watercolor paintings, folk art, and origami on loan from the Jura Silverman Gallery and local collectors.  Together, this material tells its own story, that of a beloved Madison-based artist who continues to charm and delight viewers with her unique artistic style.

Design Gallery events are free and open to the public.
How to get to the Ruth Davis Design Gallery
Parking: Click parking lots on map for real time availability


About the Design Gallery

Each academic semester the Design Gallery organizes a major curated exhibition related to a design topic followed by showcase installations of Design Studies student creative work at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

News and Events

Join the email list to get notices about upcoming events and exhibitions. Get the most up-to-date information and interesting items about design and textiles by liking the Ruth Davis Design Gallery page on Facebook.

Support Us

All Design Gallery events and exhibitions are funded entirely by competitive grants and private donations. Help us keep our programs free and accessible to the public through a gift to the Design Gallery Exhibition Fund at the University of Wisconsin Foundation.
Design Gallery Donate button

More questions?

Please call 608-262-8815. You can also email Design Gallery.