M. Joan Lintault

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M. Joan Lintault, Artist, 1938-2020


M. Joan Lintault, formerly of New Paltz passed away on Saturday, August 8, near Seattle in Shoreline, Washington at 82 years old. She was an internationally known fiber artist, teacher, mother, world traveler, animal lover, steward of nature and generous soul.


Joan was born in 1938 in the Bronx, NY to Evelyn Garcia and James Pugliese. Her father had a passionate interest in books, which he shared with Joan and her younger sister. This provided Joan with a rich collection of imagery from an early age and her imagination continued to influence her artistic development throughout her life.


Joan was person of many layers. She was a mother of two sons to whom she dedicated much of her life. Her biggest joy later in life was seeing her grandson grow up. She was a self-made woman who raised her two children under challenging conditions. She played piano and introduced playing musical instruments to both her sons at an early age with piano lessons.


Joan always kept dogs, cats, rabbits, fish in tanks, fish in ponds, and chickens. But her favorite pet and companion was a dog, especially big dogs because she could “hug them better”. Her love of nature was the muse and greatest inspiration of her artwork. She was a gardener of the type that takes stewardship of the land. Joan was a walking encyclopedia of plants, animals and bugs.


Joan was a world traveler and experiencing other cultures was a source of wonder. Joan’s first language was Spanish, which she used as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru. She always tried to be a kid at heart and was incredibly generous in so many ways. Sometimes she went out of her way to create jobs for people just so that they could have work.


Joan’s career started as a graduate of the New Paltz State Teachers College, now State University of New York, in 1960 in art education, Joan went on to obtain an MFA in ceramics at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1962. But it was her experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ayacucho, Peru, from 1963 to 1965 that caused her to become intrigued by fibers, natural dyes, and what she called the “infinite possibilities of cloth.” Upon return to the United States Joan began to experiment with techniques for the creation of imagery on cloth for art quilts, techniques that included photo sensitive dye, blue printing, brown printing, Polaroid transfers, screen printing, air brushing, and sewing machine lace, among others.


Eventually she developed a highly personal artistic vocabulary that was rooted in a rich and complex exploration of the natural world in all its contrasting patterns, colors, textures, and scales. But at first it was her focus on the details of nature, rather than the great overview, that animated Joan’s work, from the sensation of thousands of rustling leaves to the sounds of scores of insects who inhabited a lush floral environment. These seemed to hang in the air because of her use of machine lace that created complex open spaces in her compositions.


In her later work, Joan began to incorporate letters and text into her work, as well as trompe l’oeil effects so that she could contrast the surface of the cloth with greater three-dimensional details. She also integrated language and poetry in various pieces, but always with a keen sense of the importance of texture, color, and, above all, negative space. In his book The Art Quilt (1997), quilt expert Robert Shaw called Joan, “. . .one of the most consistent and original of all contemporary quilt makers.”


The originality and impact of Joan’s artistic vision is such that her work is represented in numerous public and private collections, including the White House, the Renwick Gallery of the Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City; Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock; Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Golden, Co.; International Quilt Study Center, Lincoln, NE, and The Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT, among others. She has been represented in some 30 invitational exhibitions across the United States and in Japan, Poland, France, Austria, and Brazil, as well as in 33 juried exhibitions. She also had a solo retrospective exhibition “Evidence of Paradise: The Quilts of M. Joan Lintault” in 1999 at the Illinois State Museum in Lockport.


Among her numerous grants, awards, and prizes are a National Endowment for the Arts, Craftsmen's Fellowship Grant, a Fulbright Research Grant for 9 months study in Kyoto, Japan, and an Indo-American Fellowship Research Grant for 9 months study in India.


An upcoming exhibition “Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50: New York Nexus” at the International Quilt Museum, February 2021, will feature two of her works.


Joan’s artistic vision was matched by her generosity and passionate interest in teaching. In 1973 she returned to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, School of Art and Design, to direct a textile and fiber arts program in the art department, where she remained for 27 years inspiring many students. Upon her retirement from Southern Illinois University in 2000, as a full Professor Emeritus, she returned to New York, where from her home studio in New Paltz, she continued to share her knowledge and philosophy for the next 15 years, both in person and through her blog “The Magic of Light, the Mystery of Shadows.” The culmination of her desire to inspire others to “make art” is evident in her book M. Joan Lintault: Connecting Quilts, Art & Textiles (2007).