Laurie Ceesay will teach students at the School of the Arts at Rhinelander how to create a portrait quilt, incorporating fabrics and jewelry. Her workshop “Whimsical Portrait Quilts” will provide participants with a simple pattern, then help them develop it into a portrait. They can even create a self-portrait that includes their own facial features.

Laurie Ceesay working

Ceesay working on one of her own portrait quilts.

Now in its 52nd year, the School of the Arts at Rhinelander features nearly 40 three-day workshops in visual arts, culinary arts, mind/body/spirit, performing arts, and writing on July 17-19. It emphasizes a supportive environment in which both new and experienced artists feel welcome.

Ceesay, who has taught at School of the Arts at Rhinelander before, thinks the event provides a conducive environment for creative experimentation.

“Rhinelander is a great yet small artsy community,” she says. “Everyone is very welcoming, and the other artists are very kindhearted.”

Self-image and beauty

In “Whimsical Portrait Quilts,” students will select the fabrics they want, cut out designs, and machine-sew borders before binding all the pieces together. Finally, they’ll draw on facial features and add their bling. They’ll walk away with a unique 18-inch wall hanging.

“The students will learn the raw-edged, fused applique technique I use in all my portrait quilts,” Ceesay says.

Ceesay, a native of Appleton, Wis., is a fiber artist who herself specializes in portrait quilts. Her work is inspired by the hair and fashion industry, pop culture, and retro looks from the 1940s-‘70s. Her quilts have been featured at national shows and on the PBS series “Quilting Arts TV.”

Ceesay explores issues of self-image and beauty in her quilts, and she hopes participants in “Whimsical Portrait Quilts” can express their own perspectives during the art-making process.

For more information about the School of the Arts at Rhinelander, contact director Lynn Tarnoff at ltarnoff@dcs.wisc.edu or 608-890-1424.