Exposing a variety of expressions through their hand-crafted quilts, the work of more than 150 artists from all over the United States and Canada has been gathered at Reynoldsburg High School this week for the "Sacred Threads 2009 Quilt Exhibit."

Exposing a variety of expressions through their hand-crafted quilts, the work of more than 150 artists from all over the United States and Canada has been gathered at Reynoldsburg High School this week for the "Sacred Threads 2009 Quilt Exhibit."

The exhibit opened June 17 and will continue through Sunday, June 28. The event is the brainchild of quilter and Reynoldsburg resident Vikki Pignatelli, who held her first show in 1999.

With more than 200 quilts on display at the show, each one has a story behind it -- whether it celebrates the artist's expression of spirituality, healing, grief or the joy of life.

"It's a powerful exhibit, no one leaves it untouched, and we provide Kleenex, but it's a triumph of the human spirit," Pignatelli said.

She said she decided to start the exhibit in 1999 because she noticed topics such as spirituality and inspiration were not always understood or welcomed at traditional quilt shows.

Among the many quilts on display at this year's show are 17 made by inmates of the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville.

Pignatelli, 60, said she began creating her own quilts in 1991 then began teaching others how to make them.

"I painted with oils and water colors for years," she said, "but then in 1991 I began to make my own art quilts after my sister Augustine Ellis took me to a quilting class.

"From there I became enamored and was fascinated and it became an obsession, as quilting usually does with quilt makers," she said.

"It's a lot more fun because there are different patterns to it and different colors involved that you didn't get with painting," she said.

Pignatelli said after switching from painting to quilting she soon noticed there wasn't a quilting exhibit or show that displayed the variety of styles and expressions some artists have to offer. So in 1999 she decided to launch her own show.

She said one major inspiration for her to hold an exhibition came after her husband Dennis was going through kidney cancer in 1993 -- a battle he has survived.

Pignatelli said her husband inspired her to create healing quilts or pieces that became more therapeutic than regular quilts. Soon after, she said, she began to look at holding a quilt show of similar themes from other artists.

"There's nothing good about cancer, but if there was ever a silver lining it was that we went through that and it has provided the ground work for what we've done and my whole career is because of that," Pignatelli said.

"At the time there was no such thing as a show like this, either the show involved art and composition and so forth but none of them looked at the emotional aspect," she said.

She said quilters will put weeks, months and even years into creating one quilt that will hold a variety of expressions and emotions.

"No one ever explores that area, so we thought it was time that there was a show that looked into the emotional aspect of quilt making," Pignatelli said.

The exhibit is currently showing at Reynoldsburg High School located at 6699 East Livingston Ave. Admission is $5. It is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today (June 25), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, go to the Web site www.sacredthreadsquilts.com.