Crafting splashy 'squiggle quilts' is a dream come true for Chicago artist

ByJordan Arseneau via Localish logo
Thursday, November 17, 2022
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Emily Van Hoff lost her husband and her job suddenly in 2020. She's now reinvented herself through vibrant quilt art and a loyal following.

CHICAGO -- Artist Emily Van Hoff's recent residency at boutique hotel Pendry Chicago was a first glimpse for the public to see her vibrant quilting in action. The South Loop-based designer created a green and gold fabric wall hanging inspired by the landmark Carbon & Carbide building where the hotel resides.

"This is the first event where people are able to see my work in person, which is very exciting," said Van Hoff. "I wanted to figure out how to incorporate some art deco details of the building into my designs and into my quilting."

Van Hoff's "squiggle quilts" are colorful, uniquely shaped art pieces made with dynamic patterns and textures. The artist's intention is that they bring a happy quality to the spaces in which they are hung.

"I think I'm most interested in making joyful, unexpected things," said Van Hoff. "I just love that they go to homes where they will be appreciated, enjoyed, and hopefully handed down."

Quilting art for purchase on her website, emilyvanhoff.com, is a second act for Van Hoff. Her husband Matt passed away unexpectedly in January of 2020 and she lost her job soon after as an art director and graphic designer. In the midst of these sudden changes, Van Hoff channeled her grief and uneasiness into sewing and creating art.

"I just allowed myself some time to make whatever it is I felt like making and then I shared those things online," said Van Hoff. "The encouragement from Instagram has sort of helped direct where my work has gone."

Today, Van Hoff makes wall hangings, quilt collages, and quilt patches on denim jackets, usually selling out very quickly. Her "squiggle quilts" are her most popular design.

"I do think that sewing and quilting are having a bit of a comeback right now," said Van Hoff. "I think were all sort of drawn to very tactile, textural things in our digital world."

To see the artist in action, search for @emilyvanhoff on Instagram.