Cathy Erickson, art quilter

cathy erickson: micro + macro

By Patricia Belyea

WASHOUGAL WA  When I visited Cathy Erickson, her yard was brimming with joyous flowers. Were her plants happy as a result of her loving care or the fact that her gardens overlooked the fabulous Columbia River Gorge?

Flowers in Cathy Erickson’s garden

Entering Cathy's spacious suburban home, I got my answer. On the south-side windowsills perched pots of blooming orchids. Now those aren’t something everyone can grow. Cathy absolutely has a high-functioning green thumb.

Orchids in Cathy Erickson’s home

Once I finished gawking at all the flowers, we headed upstairs to Cathy's workroom that spills into the second-floor hallway. (So much light floods into Cathy’s studio that she stores slow-moving projects in the hall so they don't fade.)

Cathy Erickson’s studio

Cathy’s quilting journey spans almost 20 years. Although her professional career was in left-brain activities—accounting and chemistry—she’s an ambitious right-brain artist. Whenever Cathy’s needed to expand her artistic skills or learn another technique, she’s attended community college for art classes or signed up for quilting classes with phenomenal teachers.

Teachers I remember Cathy mentioning include Diane Gaudynski, Maurine Noble, Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry (while she was still as stewardess!), Erika Carter, Hollis Chatelain, and more recently Nancy Crow.

The quilt top below of Cathy's daughter has been in progress for years as she’s acquired the skills to create a realistic composition in fabric:

Quilt in progress by Cathy Erickson

Currently Cathy is full speed ahead on a miniature quilt for an upcoming show in Paducah. Not only does Cathy develop all her own designs, she tries out countless stitch ideas and fabric combos. The level of detail in her micro stitching borders on fanatical!

Miniature quilt in progress by Cathy Erickson

Cathy also creates macro projects. She’s working on a quilt with a huge yellow daisy and frogs camouflaged in its petals. The in-progress project may gain another daisy and frog to fill in the space on the bottom right. Cathy plans to freemotion stitch intricate designs in the background—including busy dragonflies.

Quilt in progress by Cathy Erickson

When I first came across Cathy’s work, it was featured in an exhibit entitled What Remains: Japanese Americans in Internment Camps at La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum. Her poignant Japanese-themed quilts were paired with poems written by Margaret Chula. Today she’s on the Exhibition Committee of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland.

I found her commitment to all things Japanese shone through in the choice of books in her library and her fabric collection. Cathy’s stash includes lush silks, classic woven cottons and vivid yukata cottons—many bought from Kasuri Dyeworks over the years.

Fabrics in Cathy Erickson’s stash

Cathy continually pushes herself to take on new challenges. Recently she’s developed an in-depth proposal for an art quilt installation tailored to museums and galleries. The theme? Welcome To My Garden—a concept that authentically aligns with Cathy’s true love of flowers!

To visit Cathy’s website +click here