Ludmila Uspenskaya was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and has been working in textiles since graduating from The Mukhina Art School in St. Petersburg in 1967. For her first solo exhibition that same year, she originated the technique of fabric collage, which remains an important element in her work to this day. During art school, she also was strongly influenced by painting and architecture, and it was probably during this period that the images of surrealism first resonated with her artistic sensibilities. She has experimented on her own with different technologies and materials throughout her artistic development and was not exposed to contemporary Western textile art until she saw an exhibit of French Gobelins tapestries in St. Petersburg in 1985. She considers this an important event, since her formal education in textile arts included nothing beyond the nineteenth century.
Ludmila enjoyed wide recognition in Russia for her original fabric collages, theatre curtains, large-scale hand-painted textiles, and tapestries prior to being introduced to quiltmaking for the first time in 1989. The All-Russia Museum of Decorative Applied & Folk Art in Moscow decided to mount a quilt exhibition that year and put out a call to several hundred well-known Russian artists to submit entries, with detailed specifications about what constitutes a "quilt." Always eager to try something new, Ludmila decided to respond to the challenge by making her first quilt, which was included in the exhibition and is now owned by the museum. She was not exposed to Western quilt art until just before she moved to the United States in 1994.
Ludmila has said, “Method and creativity are alternative opposites. In order to increase creativity, you have to destroy traditions, bit by bit.” Isolated, for the most part, from the contemporary quilt scene and inclined toward experimentation by nature, she has developed her own unique imagery and techniques. Working full size in fabric from the beginning, she does not do any preliminary sketches. Instead, she keeps a "memory book" in which she records ideas, in words, for future works. Her quilts combine the rich textural dimensions of hand and machine quilt stitching with her own fabric collage, appliqué, piecing, batik, and hand painting techniques. She says the images in her quilts are inspired by "Mother Nature." However, it is clear to the viewer that it is nature as seen through the prism of the artist's imagination and affinity with surrealism. Moving gracefully between the abstract surrealistic images of her landscapes and the lush realism of her floral fantasies, she is as comfortable working on a grand scale as she is with miniatures.
Ludmila Uspenskaya’s award-winning works have been included in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries in the US. Europe, and Japan, and are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City, the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, and the All-Russia Museum of Decorative Applied & Folk Art in Moscow. She continues her creative work in textiles today, serving as a costumer for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and making her elegant and innovative quilts.
Available Quilts by Ludmila Uspenskaya
Quilt sizes range from 20 x 20 to 82 x 98 inches (h x w) and prices from $1,200–$15,000