Colleen_Kole-146 BIO:

Colleen Kole creates contemporary art quilts composed of her richly colored, hand-dyed fabrics. Her work is abstract and draws inspiration from architectural elements, the vivid colors of nature and repetitive patterning. She works in an improvisational manner with bold geometric shape and line, with the process informing the outcome.

Colleen has been a studio artist for over ten years, exhibiting her work locally, nationally and now internationally in both juried and invitational shows. Her current series, “Time Fragments”, is reflective of her patient interactions as a Physical Therapist and her intrigue with memory and memory loss.

Attendance at numerous intensive workshops for surface design and art have formed and fueled Colleen’s passion for textiles. She is a currently a member of the Studio Art Quilt Association and the Surface Design Association.

Colleen graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy .  After a rewarding 20 year career in Physical Therapy, she transitioned to her studio as a full time artist. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI,  she resides there with her husband and three children. Vermont is also a place called home by Colleen and her family.


I can’t remember a time when I didn’t use my hands and observational skills for work .  As a physical therapist for twenty years, my hands were in constant use. They were used to determine the location of physical dysfunction in a patient and to help facilitate healing with massage or stretching.  My sense of sight was used continually to monitor for problems or again to monitor healing and progress. It was a very satisfying career. 


I now have the overwhelming privilege of using those same hands and observational skills as a textile artist who makes contemporary art quilts. The quilts are made, not for functional use, but to please and intrigue the viewer. 

I start by dyeing my own fabrics so I then have a beautiful palette of colors to draw from.   Without patterns or templates, I intuitively cut freehand into the fabric using a rotary cutter. Choosing bold geometric shapes and decisive lines, I use a design wall to compose intuitively. I may or may not start with a rough sketch. But, most of all, I respond to the interaction of shapes and lines on the design wall,  improve upon that composition many times and then finalize the design before stitching together on a machine. The final step is adding machine stitching to three layers which adds another level of texture and design to the piece.


With my art, nothing delights my heart more than the tactile nature of the fabric, the color I can achieve with dyeing and design and the final ability to put both together with a needle and thread.

I reside in Grand Rapids, MI with my supportive husband and three kids. Vermont is the second place we call home.




Solo, Group Exhibitions and Invitationals:

Color Improvisations 2, Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, Ohio (January 4- March 29, 2020) Curated by Nancy Crow

Fiber Without Borders, Glen Arbor Arts Center, Glen Arbor, MI (September 13-November 7, 2019) Juried by Shannon Robinson, North Central Michigan College
Fiber Arts Exhibition, Old Arts Center, Leland, MI (October 11-13, 2019)
Color Improvisations 2, The Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, West Virginia (July 13, 2019– October 13, 2019)
Solo Show: Stitched Lines, Leap Art Gallery, Postma Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan (April 3, 2019 – June 28, 2019)

Quilts=Art=Quilts, Schwienfurth Art Center, Auburn, NY (October 3,2018 – January 7, 2019)
90th All State Exhibition, Muskegon Museum of Art (August 7, 2019 – November 7, 2018)

Artprize, Boardwalk GR, Grand Rapids, MI (September 20, 2017 – October 8, 2017)
Color Improvisations 2, Invitational, Barcelona, Spain, Curated by Nancy Crow (March 9, 2017 – March 12, 2017)
Color Improvisations 2, Hallen am Rhein, Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Curated by Nancy Crow (September 8, 2017 – September 30, 2017)
Mastery: Sustaining Momentum, Invitational, European Patchwork Meeting, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, France, Curated by Nancy Crow (September 14, 2017 – September 17, 2017)
Mastery: Sustaining Momentum, Festival of Quilts, NEC, Birmingham, England, Curated by Nancy Crow (August 10, 2017 – August 13, 2017)
Color Improvisations, Invitational, Textile Museum, Max Berk, Heidelberg, Germany, Curated by Nancy Crow (April 2, 2017 – August 13, 2017)

Color Improvisations 2, Invitational, Tuch + Technik Musem, Neumunster, Germany, Curated by Nancy Crow (March 12, 2016 – August 28, 2016)
Color Improvisations 2, Invitational, St. Marie aux-Mines, France (September 14, 2016 – September 18, 2016
88th Annual Regional Exhibit, Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI, Juried by Tom Lindberg, Colorado State University
Fantastic Fibers, Yeiser Art Center, Paducah, Kentucky, Juried by Danielle Kelly (April 2016)
Mastery: Sustaining Momentum, Invitational, Dairy Barn, Athens, Ohio, Curated by Nancy Crow (May 28, 2016 – November 27, 2016)
Tactile Architecture, International Quilt Festival, Chicago, IL (April 2016)
ArtPrize: Second Glance, Lowell Arts Center, Lowell, MI

ArtPrize, Cathedral Square, Grand Rapids, MI (September 2015 – October 2015)
86th All State Regional Exhibition, Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI
Tactile Architecture, International Quilt Festival, Houston, TX; Chicago, IL
Tactile Architecture, International Quilt Festival, Houston, TX; Chicago, IL

ArtPrize, Cathedral Square, Grand Rapids, MI (September 2013 – October 2013)
Festival of the Arts, Regional Arts Exhibition, UCIA, Grand Rapids, MI (June 2013)
85th All State Regional Arts Exhibition, Muskegon Museum of Arts, Muskegon, MI

ArtPrize, Cathedral Square, Grand Rapids, MI (September 2012 – October 2012)
West Michigan Quilt Show, Grand Rapids, MI
Vermont Quilt Festival, Burlington, VT


2019    Merit Award,  Fiber without Borders, Glen Arbor Arts Center
2018    Vermont Studio Center Residency, Johnson, VT
2016    All State Exhibition, Muskegon Museum of Art, Friends of Art
2013    Festival of the Arts, Regional Arts Exhibition, UICA, Grand Rapids, MI: Varineau Award


2019    Quilting Arts Magazine, February 2019, Cloth In CommoN
             Art Cloth Quarterly Fall, Cloth in Common
2016    Simply Moderne #8, “Color Improvisations 2” by Robert Shaw
             Quilter’s Newsletter, “Crow Curates Exhibit of Art at the Dairy Barn (October/November                 2016)
             The Columbus Dispatch, “Quilt Show in Athens Makes a Big, Bold Statement (September               9, 2016)
2015    Simply Moderne #4, “Modern Material Quilts”
2014    Guest artist on Curator’s blog for ArtPrize Cathedral Square
             WGVSU – Radio Interview with Shelly Irwin
2012     Grand Rapids Magazine, Feature article
              Grand Rapids Press, article by Jennifer Ackerman Haywood (September 29, 2012)


Bachelor of Science 1989, University of Michigan, Physical Therapy
Principles of Art Quilting/Design: Nancy Crow, David Hornug, The Barn Baltimore, Ohio
Surface Design: Claire Benn and Carol Soderlund
Lisa Call: Master Class and Working in a Series
Stitch: Christine Mauersberger, Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey, MI


Studio Art Quilt Association, 2009 to Present
Surface Design Association, 2011 to Present
American Craft Society, 2009 to Present
American Quilter’s Society, 2001 to Present
West Michigan Quilt Guild, 2008 to Present

Professional Services: Commissions available upon request