WEST HARTFORD — About a decade ago, some of Phyllis Small’s friends displayed their artwork as they celebrated 80 years of life. Now she’s looking to do the same.
“I thought that was a really neat idea,” said Small, a West Hartford resident. “So, I decided to work toward that myself and pretty soon my 80th birthday was coming up.”
She rang in the big day in February, and 80 pieces of her work are expected to be shown from March 20 until May 1 at the Windsor Art Center.
One of her sons, David, drummed up the title — “80 @ 80, The Artwork of Phyllis Small” — and she proposed it to the art center.
“My vision for the work was to kind of show how I started off with different art media and ended up with quilting,” she said. “And most of the show is quilts and it’s a retrospective mostly with a few new works in.”
Small has created art using different forms over the years, including drawing, painting, collages and silk-screening. Quilting came into the picture around the time of the birth of one of her grandchildren in 1998. Small “decided (she) had to make a baby quilt” for the child.
As her art went through various stages, some aspects remained constant while others changed in “how each type of work informs the other,” she said. “And I think when you see the show, and the pieces hanging together, that you can see that.”
Small said last week she doesn’t have a favorite part of the exhibit, but noted she was excited to see what the end product would look like.
“They’re all my favorite pieces. I like them all. Just like my kids — I like them all the same,” she said.
She also has a book that “is a program of the show and more,” which includes stories about the art and her teachers. They’ll be sold at the exhibition.
The book, which she and David began work on last summer, served as a “working outline” for the exhibit, she said.
When reflecting about her life and the show, Small said “it feels old,” but she “doesn’t really feel much different.”
“I’m hoping to keep making lots and lots of quilts,” she said. “I have so many ideas. ... I just have to keep going, really. And I think it keeps me younger, too, doing the art.”