VAC announces quilt show Viewer’s Choice award

  • Courtesy photo The Quilts in the Forest – Winds of Change exhibit at VAC’s Niaulani Campus.

  • Courtesy photo VAC patron Elizabeth Ramsey views the biennial quilt show at VAC.

  • Courtesy photo “Light and Shadow” by Phan Nguyen Barker won the People’s Choice Award.

Volcano Art Center is proud to announce the Viewer’s Choice award from the third biennial quilt show, Quilts in the Forest – Winds of Change. The award goes to Phan Nguyen Barker for her work titled “Light and Shadow.”

The piece was selected from 35 quilt entries submitted from 18 different Hawaii Island quilters, many exploring new and innovative ways of quilting and stitching.


Barker is well known for her hand-dyed silk and abstract silk paintings which often include stunning textural needlework. Her works range from simple, elegant hand-dyed silk to incredibly labor-intensive, complex, three dimensional works which borrow stitches and techniques from a range of fabric arts.

“It is no wonder that Phan’s work was selected, even amongst the other strong quilt entries,” states Gallery Manager Emily C. Weiss.

“Watching people view Phan’s work, they often spend a little more time, allowing their thoughts to meander along the complex stitchery. The fact that her works are abstract allows viewers to bring their own experiences to the work and create their own interpretation. This allows her work to become much more personal to the viewer.”

Her artwork is available through the VAC gallery. Beginning in early December she will open her fourth solo-exhibition at East Hawaii Cultural Center/Hawaii Museum of Contemporary Art in Hilo. The work she is creating for the upcoming exhibition will focus on her early life in Vietnam from 1946 to 1969.


Barker was born in 1946 in Tu Chau, a predominantly Catholic village north of Hanoi, Vietnam. When Vietnam was partitioned in 1954, she fled with her father and siblings to South Vietnam. She grew up with the Vietnam War raging around her, and learned English as a clerk/typist at Bien Hoa Air Base. She volunteered as an interpreter for an Air Force chaplain, who encouraged her come to America to study. After endless paperwork and delays, she arrived in the United States in 1969. Her time in Vietnam has provided inspiration for many powerful works of art.

“VAC wishes to thank its supportive members and community who viewed the exhibition,” continues Weiss. “It was wonderful to see our community out and enjoying the arts. Patrons were patient and respecting of social distancing and the extra safety measures in place to keep the space clean and safe for enjoyment.”

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