Paula Kovarik: Threaded Narrative Exhibit Online

Paula Kovarik, In The Deep, 2019, 37.5 x 35 inches

February 5–April 2, 2021

From Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media and Design –

Fiber artist, designer, quilter, and instructor, Kovarik actively expresses her thoughts and views through the sharp point of a needle, treasured scraps of colorful material, and endless threads that intersect and overlap weaving a story in each work. This exhibition spotlights her thought-provoking quilts as well as a tablecloth titled, Round and Round It Goes (2013), his and her pillowcases that address insomnia, and a poignant dress titled Heartfelt (2013) that was made in honor of Kovarik’s mother.

“She (Kovarik’s mother) was never afraid of taking a risk, making a plan, and carrying it out. She taught me to take responsibility for my ideas and for my loved ones. I miss her every day.” – Kovarik

Following her Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, for over 25 years Kovarik was the creative director and owner of Shades of Gray, Inc., a graphic design studio. Then, seven years ago she sold the business to focus exclusively on her work as a fiber artist. She has shared her experience and knowledge through teaching at the Art Quilt Tahoe Conference, the North Country Studio Workshops in Vermont, the Hudson Valley Fiber Art Workshops in New York, and here in Tennessee at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg. 

When asked for guidance to give emerging textile artists, Kovarik said, “Work hard. Every day. Find joy in the stitch.” Sound advice from a productive artist who continues to have her work exhibited, published, and collected.

 Kovarik’s work has been exhibited at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Grand Rapids, MI; the Site: Brooklyn Gallery in Brooklyn, NY; the Rockland Center for the Arts in West Nyack, NY; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, LA; Hudgens Center for Art & Learning in Atlanta, GA; and the Art Museum in Harrisburg, PA. Additionally, her works have been on view across Tennessee at the Sam Ross Gallery and Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, the Nashville International Airport, and the Reece Museum at ETSU in Johnson City. 

Her work has been reviewed and displayed in American Craft, Fiber ArtNow, Memphis Flyer, and Art Quilting Studio periodicals as well as Art Quilts International: Abstract & Geometric authored by Martha Sielman. Quilted works created by Kovarik have been collected by organizations such as the Memphis International Airport, the UrbanArt Commission also in Memphis, and the International Quilt Study center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“Stitching is an extension of my thoughts through my hands. It’s about the edges as defined by line. It’s about the inner coming out. Stitching is a slow process so I can be sensitive to surprises, allowing the stitched drawings to tell me more than I think I know. Surrounded by inspirations, I am awed by the mystery and eager to create. I multitask, dream in code, read with urgency and play with intent. Most days, I am breathless.” – Kovarik

Recently her work was featured larger than life on a billboard in Memphis. This May will be a good time to see Kovarik’s work in person, it will be on view at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis and one of her quilted works will debut at the Quilt National held at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, OH. She also has a show opening in July at the Visions Art Museum in San Diego, CA. If you are interested in learning more about the art of stitching a threaded narrative, Kovarik will be teaching a 5-day workshop at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in October. Check out for more information about the artist and her work.

View Exhibit