Fredericton is paying tribute to a little-known Maritime treasure this week.

Solveig Wells was a prolific quilter. While her quilts brought her critical acclaim from everyone who saw them, her family says she preferred to stay out of the spotlight.

Wells lost her battle with cancer in March and now those close to her are making sure her art lives on.

They're planning an exhibition of her work at Fredericton's Charlotte Street Arts Centre this weekend.

"She didn't feel driven to exhibit and submit quilts in competitions and quilt shows," her husband David Wells told CBC News. "What she enjoyed about quilting was the creative aspect," he said.


Solveig Wells' family has created a miniature version of the exhibit planned for the arts centre this weekend. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

Wells began quilting in the 1970s, but her skills became especially apparent in the decade before her death.

In 2006, she quilted a series called the Katrina Recovery Quilts, which won critical acclaim.

Wells, who had divided her time between a home in Mississippi and another in Fredericton, lost much of her fabric when Hurricane Katrina hit.

After the storm, she recovered some of her material and stitched together the remains to create the series.

Family creates diorama

Wells leaves behind more than a beautiful collection of quilts. Her three children are also artistic. They, along with her husband David, have put together a remarkable, small-scale display of the exhibit they'll assemble for the weekend.

The family measured each quilt and produced a diorama with tiny quilts on tiny walls. They want everything to be perfect.

Lesandra Dodson, executive director of the arts centre, is impressed not only with the love the family members have shown for Wells, but also by their attention to detail.

"David Wells walked in and plopped down a magazine article about his wife and he just started talking about wanting to do an event that celebrated her artistry and her life. And we said, 'That sounds fantastic," said Dodson.

"They are very detail-oriented and very helpful and lovely and they've even donated a hanging system for our Penny Gallery," she said.

Celebration of life

Though strangers may come to the exhibit for the quilts, many will attend because of their connection to the late artist.

Wells didn't want a funeral, but a celebration of her life instead. The family decided this would be the perfect way to commemorate her.

Piles of letters have been coming in — goodbyes to Wells, and words of thanks.

"I'm learning a lot about her in reading what all her friends have to say about her and the things we're going to read out," said her husband.

"She had many people who depended on her, that she was a social support network for, as well as our family."

Wells’ family will be hanging 50 quilts in the arts centre’s auditorium on Friday night for the public to enjoy on Saturday and Sunday.