In a celebration of history, tradition and artistry of quilting in Iowa, more than 300 quilts will be on display at dozens of cultural landmarks across Madison County during 2021 Madison County Airing of the Quilts Saturday. Many of those are made by Dennis Kuyper of Creston.
Kuyper is best known for his 31 years as a vocal music instructor for Creston Community Schools and his “Kyp’s Kitchen” recipes featured in the Creston News Advertiser and affiliated publications for the past decade. But in the local quilt community, Kuyper, 72, is considered by many to be a prolific quilter having finished his 72nd quilt in five years.
Kuyper, an avid craftsman whose work ranges from graphic design to basket weaving, understood the basics of quilting, which he learned by watching his late wife Barb. After her death in December 2014, Kuyper joined Patches & Pieces Quilt Guild, connecting with other quilters and textile artists who helped him hone his skills. His mission: to complete the projects his wife started.
Of the 72 quilts he has made, Kuyper has donated many to comfort those in hospice and made some for family and friends. Most, however, are just a new creative form of expression for him.
“I’m more of a modern quilter kind of guy than a traditional,” he said. “And I always try to do something fun on the back.”
Kuyper is tapping in to his art background and redesigning work of Anni Albers, a 20th century German-born American textile artist and print maker credited with blurring the lines between traditional craft and art during the Bauhaus Movement.
“I’ve been taking some of her pictures and redesigning them and making quilts out of them,” he said.
Kuyper studies traditional quilt patterns and processes, but reimagines them in brighter colors. Sometimes he adds an element of interest to traditional pattern by rearranging its blocks or reconfiguring the placement of pieces within each.
“I think it’s just more of whatever hits my fancy. If I see some think I like, I do it,” he said.
Kuyper doesn’t work from an existing stash of fabric anymore. With his design and color scheme in mind, he searches for the perfect fabric in Iowa shops and during his travels.
As quilt and history enthusiasts explore Madison County Saturday, Kuyper’s quilts can be found at Holliwell Covered Bridge, southeast of Winterset. Other locations include the 1870s courthouse, the Winterset City Park and the Madison County Historical Complex and a Quilt Walk through one of Winterset’s historic neighborhoods where quilts are artfully displayed on porch rails, patios, front stoops and other outdoor areas.
The 2021 Madison County Airing of the Quilts is 10 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children and members are free. For a map and information, visit the Iowa Quilt Museum.
The public is welcome to attend Kuyper’s trunk show during the Patches & Pieces Quilt Guild meeting 6:30 p.m. June 17 at the O’Riley Center. 401 Wyoming Ave., Creston. Admission is $3