Westfield artist Dawn Allen stand with one of her creations holding Beth, the feline companion who inspired it.

Reminder Publishing submitted photo

WESTFIELD — City resident Dawn Allen has always been creative, and she has always loved animals. She combined these two passions in her new exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell.

“Domestic Partners” captures the relationships that humans share with their animals. Many of the images depict humans and animals together, illustrating aspects of their emotional connection, according to a museum.

“I became inspired to create this series to capture the relationships and love that we humans have with our animals,” said Allen. “It is intended to be a celebration of our deep bonds.

“My purpose for including pieces with animals on their own is to invite you to look into their eyes and feel that you know them. This is an invitation to understand the emotions of our domestic partners,” said Allen.

Using a unique digital painting process, Allen designs all of her own fabrics. Her works are finished using a “free-motion quilting” technique that often includes 100 different thread colors.

Allen said her earliest memories are of creating things with her mother while growing up in West Stockbridge.

“My mom is extremely devoted to making art accessible,” said Allen. “When I was little, we did art projects every day together. I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t making something.”

At age 3, Allen made little pillows with velvet and embroidery thread.

“I always gravitated toward sewing projects,” Allen recalled. “For many years as a teenager, I made beaded jewelry and sold it. That was my first professional venture.”

Allen’s mother and grandmothers sewed, but none quilted.

“I really didn’t know any quilters, but it became a passion when I was in my early 20s,” Allen said. “I made modern quilts for years, then switched to art quilts. Art quilts are original designs usually made for the wall and intended for art, not function. I am self-taught as a quilter, but I did take a one-day course from Kate Themel.”

Allen exhibits and sells her art, but her profession is as an animal communicator.

“I started out when I was in college, taking workshops taught by animal communicators and reading books,” she said. “They taught me to ‘hear’ what animals are thinking and feeling.”

Allen began working with people and their pets, listening to what the animals have to say, after college. That was 26 years ago, and she continues to communicate with animals today. Allen said pets and humans are very connected for a variety of reasons.

“For me, animals are a source of love and companionship that I can really count on. They are so kind and present and forgiving,” she said. “I honestly don’t know how anyone can be without an animal friend. I personally have four cats and two donkeys — shared by my husband and kids. Our whole family is richer, in love, and happier because of the animals.”

It wasn’t until 2016 that Allen began blending her two worlds.

“I feel like at first, I wanted my art to be separate, so I had variety in my life. But now that I create fiber art animal portraits, I really feel a passion for it,” said Allen. “Recently, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book, ‘Pink Mouse in My House.’ It is full of cats, and one toy mouse. I felt happy every day, drawing lots of cats! Now I am working on illustrating the next book, which is hilarious and fun, about a cat who is panicking about the new puppy giving him fleas.”

Allen’s husband Tim Allen is a Westfield native whose family has lived here for centuries. The couple built a home in Wyben in 2006 after living in the Florence neighborhood of Northampton. Allen said Westfield’s art scene is growing and thriving.

“There are many talented artists in Westfield,” she said. “I love the new gallery in the Athenaeum. I have participated in several events and shown art here in Westfield.”

She is also excited about her museum exhibit.

“I am so proud to have a show at the New England Quilt Museum,” Allen said. “To share my love of animals with a broad audience and have my art showcased so beautifully is a dream come true.”

For more on Allen’s art, visit dawnallen.net, and for information on animal communication, visit dawnallen.org. “Domestic Partners” is on exhibit through June 15 at the New England Quilt Museum, 18 Shattuck St., Lowell.