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Stitching a memory
Monroe’s Mary Alice Hart will compete in this year’s Great Wisconsin Quilt Show, held virtually Sept. 10-12 at
hart quilt show
Mary Alice Hart, Monroe, has been involved with the Great Wisconsin Quilt Show since its inception and typically teaches at the event. This year, she’ll compete with her quilt “The Great Mosque of Cordoba, Spain” which was inspired from a photograph taken during a trip there with her husband a few years ago. - photo by Shannon Rabotski

MONROE — At this year’s Great Wisconsin Quilt Show Contest, local Monroe quilter Mary Alice Hart will have a quilt being judged and will compete for a top prize.

The 16th annual show will be an online-exclusive, virtual experience this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be held Sept. 10-12 at 

Hart has submitted her quilt, “The Great Mosque of Cordoba, Spain” that has been selected to compete in the quilt show. 

Inspiration for her quilt came from a recent tour trip she and her husband took of Portugal and Spain a few years ago. She was looking at photos of the trip when she came upon a place she recalled as “The Prayer Room.” 

“Built in 784-987, the awe-inspiring Great Mosque prayer room features arches with red bricks — which probably saved it from the devastating earthquake of 1755,” she said. “A cathedral built inside the mosque in the 14th century was considered a desecration. It prevented total destruction, however, when Napoleon invaded in the 1800s.”

Hart feels that every quilt has a story.

“It was the experience of a lifetime,” Hart said. “We’ve done a lot of traveling, but it was mind blowing, the whole thing.”

In the last few years, Hart said she’s done more artistic quilting, which she finds both challenging and rewarding. Art quilting has a broad range, since some pieces can be more interpretive and others might use a photo for more direct inspiration. 

“I don’t feel I am an artist,” she said. “I try to interpret in fabric what I’m seeing in the photo. It’s more realistic.”

She worked on her piece to get the basics done in a couple of months, Hart said, before moving on to sewing and free motion quilting. Some parts of the quilt are more dense, and others aren’t, she said.

Hart has attended the annual quilt show since it started and has been teaching there for about 10 years. Although she’s disappointed that the event is having to be held virtually, she’s happy they’re still holding it. 

She often submits items for judging, and once earned an honorable mention. 

“I don’t expect any prizes,” she said. “So many people do such unbelievable work. It’s more of a chance just to show what I’m doing.”

She said due to being home more because of the pandemic, the quilt became her “COVID-19 piece” since she had plenty of time to work on it without other obligations or travel plans.

Hart taught Home Economics in Monroe for more than three decades and retired in 2000. She was immersed in quilting from her childhood after watching her mother, aunts and grandmother quilt. 

Quilts accepted in the 10-category contest are judged on visual impact and stitching technique. Awards are given for Best of Show, as well as first-, second- and third-place recognition in each category. One quilt is selected by those who attend the virtual event to receive the Viewers’ Choice award. Virtual attendees can vote for their favorite quilt at

Free registration is open for the three-day event at The event offers educational sessions and interactive quilt exhibits and shopping opportunities by trusted vendors.