Barbara Behrmann

Barbara Behrmann, Ithaca, NY

Barbara is fabric and mixed-media artist who began making traditional quilts in the late 90s. She went to see a friend’s quilt on display in a local quilt show was instantly enthralled!  Art quilts! Who knew? 

She signed up for an introductory class and began making traditional quilts, but quickly realized she wanted to create her own designs.  This was – and continues to be - a process of discovery.  She does not have a formal background in art.  Matching points is an exercise in frustration. She is impulsive, impatient and indecisive.  But rather than viewing these qualities negatively, she has come to embrace them and find ways of working that convert these "liabilities" into assets. 

Barbara’s work is abstract and often improvisational. Through a process of sewing fabrics together, slashing them in different directions, adding other pieces, and cutting them again, she creates multiple mini compositions. These are then moved around and rearranged until she is satisfied with the design. Inspired by urban and rural landscapes, she also uses photographs as the inspiration for some of her work.  In most cases, similar to traditional quilts, she then creates a “sandwich” and holds the layers together with decorative stitching.

Barbara continues to explore new ways of working and new ways of including different materials.  She relies on commercial batiks, dupioni silks, and increasingly her own hand-dyed and hand-painted fabrics.  Papers, fibers, canvasses, and various odds and ends sometimes find their way into her work, as well.  She is inspired by many artists and has had the privilege of taking classes with various fabric artists, including the very talented Rosalie Dace, Pat Pauly, and Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer.  Overall, her goal is to create vibrant and colorful abstract compositions that surprise the viewer and delight the eye.

Prior to becoming a fabric artist, Barbara received a Ph.D. in sociology from Penn State University.  She raised two daughters in Ithaca, NY, wrote a book, and has worked as a writer, speaker, organizational leader, and started a small business called Ceremonies and Event Planning of the

Finger Lakes.  To date, she has officiated at close to 100 weddings. When her younger daughter started college a few years ago, Barbara was able to begin devoting more of her time to art.  Her work has been displayed at the Ithaca Artist Market, The Community School of Music and the Arts, The Community Arts Partnership, Quilting by the Lake, The Tompkins Trust Company, Sew Shannon, Transformations Hair Salon, and Cloud Croft Studios, where she received the Best in Fiber award in 2019. She is a member of the Greater Ithaca Art Trail, Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) and The Quilt Divas.  Visit her website at and follow her on Facebook at You can also follow her on Instagram at @ArtquiltsbyBarb.

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