Nora Renick Rinehart: “Flannel Futures”

poster for Nora Renick Rinehart's exhibition Flannel Futures with pink and blue u-forms

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A Second Year MFA Online Exhibition

soft sculpture made of pink, blue, and purple fabric and beads.
“In Orbit 7.” Nora Renick Rinehart. Recycled flannel shirts, metallic lamé piping, fringe, cotton batting, polyfill, hand quilting. Laser cut acrylic mounts. 2021.

Flannel Futures features textile and printmaking work that operate within the fields of queer abstraction and queer futurism to explore the reflections and refractions between the past, present and future. By combining traditional quilting techniques with the language of queer fashion, Rinehart’s works engage the contradiction between the mundanity of the iconic lesbian flannel shirt and the gay bravado of fringe and piping. These elements evoke memories of the bodies, both real and imagined, the materials were intended for. While using recycled materials to make quilts is not new, Rinehart’s fabric pieces break as many rules as they follow: inviting motion, glitter, glam, and shapes that not only break the rectangular mold but push away from the wall in increasingly dimensional acts of defiance. Metallic surfaces and high-tech mounts position the works in a futuristic landscape. Rooted strongly in the color palette most often associated with a rigid gender binary, seemingly infinite iterations of semi-abstracted rainbow forms playfully toy with stereotypical expectations of queer representation. The shape could just as easily be an arch, a window, a passage or a person as it is a rainbow. Flattened, broken, halved and rotated, the shape expands into circuitry, piping and lines of connectivity. Flannel Futures inquires into the making of memory, questions the perseverance of tradition versus the conjuring of new normals, and wonders how we will commemorate that which we have used to commemorate our own past from the vantage point of the future.

About Nora Renick Rinehart

Person standing before a blue brick wall holding a quilt with beaded tassels blowing in the wind.
“Yes, And.” Nora Renick Rinehart. Recycled flannel shirts, metallic lame piping, fringe, cotton batting. Machine stitched, hand quilted. Laser cut acrylic mounts. 30” x 57”, 2021.


Nora Renick Rinehart is an MFA Candidate in Design Studies at The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology. After receiving a BFA in Fibers from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2007, Nora spent twelve years making work, teaching textiles, curating and reading a lot of non-fiction. She’s likewise building an MFA program that hybridizes all of these interests. Her current body of work revolves around quilting and explores quilting’s place in the past, present and future. As a queer artist, she infuses all of her projects with a queer sensibility and has recently shifted her practice to engage with queerness directly by combining traditional and alternative quilting methods with the language of queer fashion. Nora has exhibited her work nationally. She was an artist in residence in the Chicago Artist Coalition’s Hatch program and at the Lillstreet Art Center, where she went on to become the Textiles Department Director. These days, Nora lives in Madison, WI, with her beautiful cat, Ripley. She loves science fiction, gardening and playing hockey (badly) on the weekends.

print of pink, purple, and light blue U-forms stacked on top of each other in shape of an arrow
“Circuitous 15.” Nora Renick Rinehart. Fluorescent block printing ink on paper. 15” x 20”, 2021. Photo credit Jim Escalante.

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“Flannel Futures” is a Design Studies Second Year MFA Exhibition for the Spring Semester 2021. Originally intended to be installed in the Ruth Davis Design Gallery, the exhibition is supported by the Design Studies Program at the School of Human Ecology. Private installation and events occurring May 8-May 22, 2021. The exhibition is not open to the public.