As a young child, Sara Schechner learned painting and needlework from her grandmother. By day, the two traipsed around the Jersey shore with sketchbook and paints, setting up their easels side-by-side in marinas, on beaches, and by historic buildings. At night, she joined her in embroidery, needlepoint, and other needle arts. Sewing with a machine came later, and then it was to fashion teen clothes and fix camping gear.
The gift of a new sewing machine for her fortieth birthday inspired Schechner to pursue her art in stitched creations. By this time, she was a well-known historian of science with a specialty in astronomy and physics. In 2000 Schechner became the curator of Harvard’s Collection of Historic Scientific Instruments, where she daily works with magnificent museum objects of brass and glass, wood and fabric. She also teaches museum studies. Her professional work—research, exhibitions, teaching, and publications—bridge the worlds of science, history, and art. So does her fiber art. Her first two quilts—made for her daughters—were traditional in design but used color and pattern to explore earth and planetary sciences in a way that was meaningful to the girls’ interests. Recent quilts are inspired by history and the night sky, the built environment set within nature, and by the many-faceted meanings of tangible things.
Schechner is active in the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) and Quilters’ Connection, a partner in the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, Massachusetts. She is a member of the Quinobequin Quilters guild. Her quilts have been exhibited nationally, including a display in the US Naval Observatory library where the US Vice President delivers his televised addresses.
Sara J. Schechner