Cathryn Zeleny
The Artist
The Quilts
The Paintings
The Philosophy
About the Artist

Cathryn Zeleny has been involved in art and design all her life. 

She learned sewing and needlearts as a child, and drawing, painting,

and sculpture as a young adult.  

She completed a BA in art studio and an MA in psychology,

and then worked in art galleries and taught classes for many years while

 painting and exhibiting part-time.   In 1999, she started art quilting,

which she considers a natural blend of her skills and interests.


Exhibitions, Juried:


Fantastic Fibers, Yeiser Art Center, Paducah, KY, 2014

Art Quilt Elements, Wayne Art Center, PA, 2014

Houston Intl' Quilt Show (travelling show), 2013 

Pacific International Quilt Show, 2001 - 2013

Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 2010 and 2012 (Merit Awards), 2014

Denver International Quilt Show, 2012

Gallery at the Community Center, Yountville, 2010-2011

National Quilting Museum, (World Equestrian Exhibition), 2010

International Quilt Assoc., Houston Festival, 2010

Road to California, 2005-2007, 2010-2011

National Quilting Museum, (New Quilts Int'l Competition) 2009, First Place

American Quilters Society (Paducah), 2005

Marin Quilt & Needlearts Show, 2000-2005, 1st ('04) and 2nd ('05)

Museum of American Quilter's Society, 2002 and 2003

Wine Country Artists, 1985-2002, Best of Show (’01), Merit (’96)

Explore This!, West Bend Art museum, WI, 2001

Houston Intl' Quilt Show (Hoffman Fabric travelling show), 2001

Northern Calif. Arts Inc., Bold Expressions, 1999 and 2000

Sacramento Fine Arts Center, Carmichael, 2000

Abstraction II, Period Gallery, Omaha, NE, 2000

Colored Pencil Society of America, 7th Int'l Exhibition, 1999

Quercia Balcony Gallery, Monte Rio, CA, 1999

Watercolor Artist of Sonoma County, 1996 and 1997

Sonoma State University, Women Artists, 1997

Napa County Fair (professional, judged), 1987-1997, Best of Show (’89)

Gallery One, Petaluma, 1997

Ross Art and Garden Center, 1996

Vacaville Art League, 1990, 1991, and 1993

Fairfield Art League, 1991










Cathryn’s current work is characterized by three-dimensional abstract forms which undulate and/or overlap in space.

The images are metaphysical in nature, and of universal appeal.


Her quilts have been shown internationally at quilt events, as well as at art galleries and online. Her work is

in several private collections, and has been published in Quilters Newsletter Magazineand in three

American Quilters Society books.  She has been an  Artist-in-Residence at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar,

and is the First Place winner of the National Quilting Museum's 2009 competition New Quilts From An Old Favorite. 

She continues to show her recent paintings and art quilts in gallery and art society exhibitions.


Cathryn, primarily a studio artist, also teaches composition and design, and lectures on inspiration and concept. 

She lives on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington with her partner, pianist John Schwennesen.


Artist's Statement

      I started using fabric as a creative medium in 1999 more by accident than design.  I was suffering from both creative block in my painting and from illness, and needed an artistic avenue that was playful and without professional purpose.
     The majority of the quilts I made between then and 2004 were explorations of the different compositions and
visual options that are possible within the technical framework of the 'traditional' quilt.
I experimented with piecing, applique, and quilting stitches as  'canvases' for the portrayal of both
pictorial imagery and conceptual or non-representational design.

     In 2002, first as acrylic or pastel paintings and later as quilts, I started my current primary body of work. 

The series is about the essential universality of three-dimensional forms which undulate and/or overlap in space.

The images are cropped from different sources: sand dunes, waves, rotted wood, snowdrifts, flowers, adobes, the figure,

and from my own imagination.  I find these forms to be mysterious and intriguing, and spiritual in nature. 

They speak to me. 


     The pastels and paintings in this series are experimental in nature as the mediums naturally allow for major changes as the image develops.  I explore the compositional principles of balance, the division of space, and visual movement.  The aesthetic of the forms becomes more important than their original source.


     The quilts are the result of a preplanned design process using my paintings and sketches as a base, and have their technical origins in my earlier work.  I choose the color or value gradations that are necessary to create my visual imagery, and I superimpose them on traditional quilt block patterns, pieced geometrics, or fused organic shapes.



Exhibitions, Curated:


Napa Valley Museum, Yountville, CA 2011

West Overton Museum, Scottsdale PA, 2003 and 2010

American Quilters Society, Lancaster, PA, 2010

Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum, TX, 2010

American Quilters Society, Des Moines IA, 2009

American Quilters Society, Knoxville TN, 2009

Auburn Arts Building Gallery, Auburn, CA, 2006

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA, 2004

Octagon Center for the Arts, Ames, IA, 2004

Shafer Memorial Gallery, Great Bend, KS, 2002 and 2004

Peel House Mansion, Bentonville, AR, 2003

Dunedin Fine Art center, Dunedin, FL, 2003

American Quilters Society, Nashville, TN, 2003

New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, MA, 2003

All American Quilt Show, Powell, WY, 2002

Bucyrus Public Library, OH, 2002

Waterloo Area Quilt Festival, Ontario, Canada, 2002

Muskingum County Library, Zenesville, OH, 2001


Exhibitions, Solo:


Cloverdale Arts Alliance, 2013, (guest artist)

Empty Spools Seminars, Asilomar, 2007, Artist-In-Residence

Living Styles, Arcata, Ca., 2006 (one-woman show)

Mendocino Art Center, 2004, (one-woman show)

Wow! Art Salons, 1995-2005, (11 one-woman shows)

The Abbey Restaurant, 1996 (one-woman show)

Calistoga Chamber of Commerce (commission), 1989


Exhibitions, Group and Gallery:


Sprint Copy Center, Sebastopol, 2009-2013;

Laguna Foundation, Santa Rosa, 2013

Finley Center, Santa Rosa, 2012;

Occidental Center for the Arts, Occidental, 2012- 2014

Rincon Valley Library, Santa Rosa, 2007-2014

St Helena Artists Guild at Nimbus Arts, 2013 

Napa Valley Quilters biennial shows, 1998-2012

Napa Valley Library, 2009-2012

Moonlighters Quilt Guild, Santa Rosa, 2003, 2008, 2011

Lawler House, Suisun City, 2010

Mendocino Art Center Gallery, 2004-2007

American Quilters Society (Nashville), 2005

Wow! Art Salons, 3 group shows, 1995-2005

Napa Valley Quilters 2004 Challenge, 1st Place

Wine Country Artists at Lyman Park, St. Helena, 1985-2003

Bunbury Patchwork and Quilting, Australia, 2002, 2002

American Cancer Society, Santa Rosa, 1996

Valley of the Moon Art Association, 1995 and 1996

North Bay Title Company, Santa Rosa, 1996

Chicago Title Company, Rohnert Park, 1996

Napa Valley Art Association, 1995

Vines Gallery, 1993-1995

St Helena Hospital Foundation, 1990-1992

Napa Valley Art Assoc., 1988-1989

Sonoma State University, outdoor sculpture, 1987





BA, Art Studio, 1987; MA, Psychology, 1989




Quilter’s Home (magazine), January 2010

Burgoyne Surrounded: New Quilts from an Old Favorite, AQS, 2009

Fiberarts (magazine), Summer 2009

Quilters Newsletter (magazine), Aug/Sept 2009

Quilters Newsletter (magazine), July/August 2004 issue

Feathered Star: New Quilts from an Old Favorite, AQS, April 2003

 Tumbling Blocks: New Quilts from an Old Favorite, AQS, 2002