Helen Ericson

Helen Ericson

detail of Robbing Peter to Pay Paul by Helen Ericson

During the decades following World War II (1941-45), the United States launched space ships, built modern suburbs, emerged as an industrial giant, and looked toward even greater accomplishments in the future. But as 1976 and the Bicentennial approached, the American people also regained an interest in their personal and collective national heritage. A revived popular interest in quiltmaking and its historical roots were manifestations of this nostalgia.

Helen Ericson (1929-2016) began quiltmaking twenty-five years before the widespread revival of the craft, and continued throughout all of her adult life. Of the countless Americans who picked up quiltmaking, Ericson was among a smaller number whose accomplishments were exceptional. Designated a Master Folk Artist in 1984 by the Kansas Historical Society, she had studied the history of quiltmaking, collected old quilt patterns and fabrics, mastered traditional techniques and taught quiltmaking and quilt history across the country.

Ericson’s 60-year development as a quiltmaker went through distinct phases. This exhibition includes quilts selected from just two of these periods—the 1970s and the 2000s—to demonstrate her advanced skills at the beginning of the quilt revival and her lifelong efforts to discover, preserve, and share the historical roots of American quiltmaking.

- Jonathan Gregory, curator

Event Date
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 to Saturday, December 8, 2018