Marmion art gallery to exhibit work by local quilter Wilma Shimkus

Nature- and pioneer-inspired quilts by Wilma Shimkus of Big Rock will be going on display starting Jan. 28 at Marmion Academy’s Dr. Scholl Gallery.

Shimkus has always enjoyed art in many forms, specifically taking photos and exploring ways to make color and design come together.

As a docent at Blackberry Farm, Shimkus taught others how the pioneers survived. She demonstrated how they made soap, raised food, and used a fireplace to cook meals. 

When she found she was expecting, working in a smokey environment was not the best option, so she volunteered to become the quilter and work in the Early Streets building.

Having no experience as a quilter, but having sewed most of her adult life, Shimkus felt she could do the job. To better prepare she signed up for a quilting class at a quilt show in Geneva.

As fate had it, that class was full, but she was directed to another class on quilting designs. This class opened a whole new understanding of the quilting process and the care of quilts.

While working at Blackberry Farm, she constructed two quilts on a treadle sewing machine and hand quilted them on a frame in the pioneer cabin using some of the knowledge she had learned at the quilting class.

Wilma Shimkus uses pioneer themes and animals in her quilts. Courtesy of Marmion Academy

She incorporated pioneer themes in quilting including blackberries and animals that were prevalent in the pioneer’s lives. By doing this, children saw the designs of the quilting, not just the quilt pieces.

At a DeKalb County Quilt Guild meeting, she found her passion in quilting. She was a member of the DeKalb guild for many years until she founded Common Threads Quilt Guild in Sugar Grove.

Always trying to improve, she has taken many classes at the guilds, quilt stores, and quilt shows and has learned many techniques over the years.

As with other artists, she learns by going to quilt shows and studying the work of other quilters. She now does most of her quilting by machine, both domestic and on a long arm.

Art quilts have become a favorite of hers and she enjoys creating quilts inspired by nature and the world around her.

On Sunday, Feb. 11, there will be an artist reception, free and open to the public, from noon to 2 p.m. A raffle for small selected works will take place during the reception.

Prior to the reception, the Marmion Music Boosters will be hosting their annual pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; details and tickets are available at

The exhibit will continue through Feb. 16 in the school gallery, 1000 Butterfield Road. If you would like to view the exhibit during school hours, contact Lisa Dzuricsko at to set up a viewing time.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.