Sew what?

I Make Things Because I Must explores the value of homemade at YSAC

By Jimaur Calhoun

Sometimes in art, a little material can go a long way. All it takes is heart and imagination to make a beautiful piece of work. I’m not quoting something from a Care Bears card, I’m just showing appreciation for when someone makes a lot out of a little while putting their whole heart into, like the artists behind the upcoming Yellow Springs I Make Things Because I Must art exhibition.

I Make Things Because I Must will feature the use of quilt and textile material, which contributed to making the doll portraits, stuffed magical creatures, embroidery and hand crafted rugs that will be on display. The featured artists create their works to give to friends and family as gifts, home decorations or even making something new out of something old.

“This is the first exhibition of its kind,” says Nancy Mellon, gallery coordinator of the Yellow Springs Art Council. “The emphasis of this show is dedicated to making the world a prettier, hand crafted place.”

The exhibition will feature the work of artists Kathy Verner Moulton, Mary Noren, Phyllis Schmidt and creator of the event, Holly Underwood. This event will allow the four artists then to express their need for making crafts as not only artistic expression but for creating things they consider personal and heartfelt for themselves and those close to them.

“I’m not making these things for the sake of art, per se,” says Holly Underwood, who not only put the event together but is office manager for the Yellow Springs Art Council. “I make these things because I don’t have much money and I want to decorate my house or give friends and family a piece of me. These are the things that drive me to create all of the time.”

While the artists are sharing the spotlight for this occasion, they will be bringing their own styles and expertise to said event. Mary Noren, who runs The Mad Hatter Sewing Studio in Yellow Springs, will bring her love of vibrant colors and quirky motifs into her works. Phyllis Schmidt will bring her background of design into her works. Her style includes decorative art, made from things of different medias.

“I learned to sew and embroider from my mother and grandmother but began to put it to some actual use when I was in the Girl Scouts,” says Underwood. “I’ve done it for over 30 years and it is something I really enjoy doing. Making whatever I can with needles, colors and different textures.”

“This show is about taking things that are already there or a need for something and making it more interesting,” says Mellon. “Say that you want new curtains for your house but cannot afford to buy them. The exhibition can give someone the inspiration to make curtains from cloth material around the house. Maybe when you have a little more money, you can go out and buy curtains but the ones you made have more meaning because you made them.”

“It’s not like the reasons for making things is because there is a lack of them,” says Underwood. “It is because it makes our surrounding more personal instead of things made overseas. It can be seen as a movement against the mass-produced. There is a personal satisfaction for me when I make things. I have an idea and I put it into something that I’m going to see everyday and it’s fun to make my ideas come to life.”

When you buy a rug or a doll from chains like Target or Walmart, it’s not made for you. It is mass-produced overseas and it is made to make that company money. The works of these four artists were made to put smiles on the faces of those closest to them more than to make money. Something that, at the moment, machines cannot do.

“Making things honestly surrounds me with happiness, something that a name brand store can’t do,” says Underwood. “I want the audience to get an appreciation for the handmade and the personal touches that I and the other artists put into making our brand of art.”

I Make Things Because I Must will be on display May 20-June 12 at the Yellow Springs Arts Council, 111 Corry St. in Yellow Springs. An opening reception takes place 6-9 p.m. on Friday, May 20 with the artists speaking at 7 p.m. For more information, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Jimaur Calhoun at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Jimaur Calhoun at

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