As a collector, I'm looking for something that reflects my country back at me. Quilts rearrange my molecules when I look at them. There's an enormous satisfaction in having them close by. I'm not a materialist. There are too many things in the world, and we know that the best things in life aren't things. Yet there are a few things that remind me of the bigger picture.
We live in a rational world. One and one always equals two. That's okay, but we actually want—in our faith, in our families, in our friendships, in our love, in our art—for one and one to equal three.
And quilts do that for me.
Prolific film-maker and documentarian Ken Burns loves antique American quilts.
To him, each of these textiles represents a moment in time and American history—a nexus of individuals and geography and culture that can never be fully recovered, but which is nevertheless represented in these strikingly graphic compositions. Burns is less concerned with the provenance and genealogy of his quilts than with their gestalt—both their visual impact on the viewer, and their implicit connections to life stories.
Displayed alongside eloquent, anecdotal thoughts about quilts, collecting, art and authenticity, Burns’ quilts function as his films do: they spark dialogue and remind us—he hopes—of our shared humanity.