by Sue Austin



Fairfield Arts & Convention Center

Exhibit closes March 31


Local needlework artist, Sue Austin has created and donated close to 50 fine counted cross stitch art pieces to the Fairfield Art Association, after an area historian recommended the finely crafted work be kept in Jefferson county. Each piece took Austin up to six months to complete, and contains elements of beading, jewels, metallic threads and exceptionally tiny stitches. This labor of love began around 1970 and continued until her sight was diminished in recent years. Austin said she was able to complete a couple a year, and usually was excited to start another before the one she was working on was finished.

After several meetings discussing her accumulated needlework collection, Austin selected several framed and some yet to frame pieces, to keep for her move to a new residence. The remaining works she wanted to pass along where they would be loved and most appreciated. Indeed the FAA is such a place,
and an exhibit of her work was immediately planned.
The FAA board feels this will be an unusual exhibit everyone will enjoy.

The subject of the show is exquisite sophisticated angels, queens, fairies, mothers, and other with attributes of the graceful woman. “What a perfect show to display for the months of February and March” states Suzan Kessel FAA Volunteer Director, “If you have ever sewn or done any needlework, you will appreciate the craftsmanship. My mother always said you can tell the talent of the artist by the
workmanship on the back, although you won’t be able to see that on these,
I can say it is almost as beautiful as the front!”

FAA board members Nancy Huebner, Jan Bork and Eileen Hawthorne volunteered to prepare the inventoried needle works for public display. There were a lot of hands on work to bring this exhibit to the gallery, as many of the pieces were simply rolled on tubes for storage. First they selected 30 of the works they felt would be best to showcase and envisioned colors and designs that would complement each other while hanging. Mostly different sizes, they were pinned and carefully mounted,
then wrapped in acid free covering.

Over time, some of the collection of Austin’s cross stitch pieces will be given to appropriate local institutions. Mark Shafer has already selected a piece to compliment a display in the Carnegie Museum.  The FAA has become guardian to other art works over the years, accepting donations of valued art from relatives, friends or artists themselves. The FAA hangs parts of its’ permanent collection throughout the FACC, for example Ben Taylor works are displayed in the Executive Conference Room, and works by well known Iowans from 1960 – present are in the Corridor Gallery.