Russ Little is an artist, and fiber is his chosen medium.
His university education focused on the technical aspects of geography and cartography, and he spent more than 25 years applying that learning to a corporate career in print publishing and IT management. In his mid-40’s he had what he describes as, “an embarrassingly stereotypical midlife crisis” and entered a process of discernment that led him to recognize, name, and embrace his other identity as an artist. Over the past 15 years he’s studied surface design, dyeing, color theory, and 2D design in intensive workshop settings as he gradually made the transition to becoming a full time studio artist.
Russ’s artwork is abstract, intuitive, and influenced by his interests in matters of faith, biology, computer programming, cartography, and the nature of places. It has been shown across the US in highly sought after juried exhibitions such as Quilt National 19, Quilts=Art=Quilts, and Art Quilt Elements. His artwork can also be found in private collections, and his liturgical textiles are part of the collections of several churches and clergy members. In addition to fine art, Russ’s studio practice includes creating and selling original hand dyed wearable art scarves.
Russ is a member of the Surface Design Association (SDA), Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), and Art Cloth Network (ACN) a juried group of textile artists committed to creating, exhibiting, and promoting works made of or referencing cloth. He is a past Chair of ACN and his work has appeared in over 10 of the group’s traveling juried exhibitions and catalogs.
In 2020 Russ was a featured artist in the “Guest Creative” interview series that is part of Jane Dunnewold’s Creative Strength Training class. He has also been an invited speaker at artist groups and guilds.
My artwork is abstract and deals with the themes of brokenness, wholeness, connection, and movement through the juxtaposition and manipulation of color, shape, line, and layering. Circular forms speak to me on a soul-deep level and appear in most of my work. I work very intuitively. Rather than executing a carefully preconceived plan, I work in a call-and-response manner, allowing each new layer or design element to influence my next step. As such, I often only understand the meaning of a piece of art as it nears completion. Others have said that my work has mid-century modern, analytical, dreamy, and painterly qualities.
I work with all sorts of tools and media, but most of my work finds it’s completion as quilted fiber art. I also make wearable art. I’m a dyer, printmaker, programmer, photographer, painter, stitcher, and quilter. And, at the end of the day, I’m an artist.
I tend to create multiple works in a series. Doing so allows me to explore a given concept or motif more deeply by addressing it in several works of art. These pieces are sometimes created one after another and sometimes years apart, but they always relate to the same common theme.
My work has evolved into what I’m calling “quilted paintings,” as opposed to art quilts. These are whole cloth or pieced compositions created by either painting directly on cloth with dye or paint, or by printing a design on cloth using a wide carriage inkjet printer. The computer-based prints are made from iPad drawings or photographs of my own original paintings and collages on board or paper. The final product is layered with batting and backing, then quilted. I often add hand embroidered detail. For me, the quilting lines are the final drawing layer, adding texture and shadow to an otherwise flat surface. Not surprisingly, my quilting style often resembles contour lines on a map. It’s not an intentional thing; it’s just what happens when I sit down to quilt. It touches on my roots as a cartographer, and that sort of connectedness and authenticity is what I strive for in my work.
My most recent series is titled, “Reformation” and it’s a no-holds-barred revisiting of some of my older completed pieces. These finished works are getting cut, painted, combined, repieced, and radically transformed. It’s about mining the past to create something new. It’s about evolution and reformation.
Moving in Circles: Art Quilts by Russ Little, Greenbelt Community Center Gallery, Greenbelt, MD
Time Unbound, InLiquid Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Full Circle, Textile Center, Minneapolis, MN
Art Quilt Elements, Wayne Art Center, Wayne, PA
Quilts = Art = Quilts, Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, NY
Quilt National, Dairy Barn Art Center, Athens, OH
Transgressing Traditions: Contemporary Textiles by the Surface Design Association, Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, NY
Catalog, Wide Open, Art Cloth Network, 2021
Catalog, Full Circle, Art Cloth Network, 2020 (included artwork; author: “The Art Cloth
Network Story 2000-2020”)
Prato, Cate Coulacos, “Artist Profile: Art Cloth Network,” Quilting Arts, p. 35, Aug-Sept 2019
Quilt National (2019), Quilt National: The Best of Contemporary Quilts, 2019 (included artwork)
Catalog, The Space Between, Art Cloth Network, 2019 (author: Introduction)
Catalog, Unbound, Art Cloth Network, 2018 (included artwork & cover art; author:
2008 - 2013
Greenbelt Community Center, Greenbelt, MD
Art Cloth Network
Chair from 2017-2019
Juried member since 2008
First Trinity Lutheran Church, Washington, DC
Altar hangings and banners
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, College Park, MD
Advent altar hangings and vestments
Workshop Study with internationally recognized teachers in surface design, textile arts, and dyeing, including Carol Soderlund, David Hornung, Kerr Grabowski, and others
State University of New York at Binghamton, Binghamton, NY
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA