Now Showing

Photo of yo-yo quilt with graphic squares, triangles, rectangles and circles over it.
May 4, 2018 to August 30, 2018
War and Pieced quilt detail
May 25, 2018 to September 16, 2018
Cork board with quilt materials hanging from it.
July 6, 2018 to November 15, 2018

Sustaining Tradition in Western India: Quilts Made for the Market

Sustaining Tradition in Western India: Quilts Made for the Market
West India Quilt
Sustaining Tradition in Western India: Quilts Made for the Market

Pumphrey Family Gallery
April 17-August 26, 2018

In the western Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, royal families traditionally displayed their wealth with bed quilts made from sumptuous and expensive fabrics. Aristocrats and rich merchants commissioned intricate all-white quilts as status symbols. Villagers adorned their homes with brightly colored patchwork ralli, while city folk favored printed whole-cloth razai. 

Many of these quilt types survive today, but young people no longer learn to sew as reliably as they once did. Expanded educational and work opportunities, and new technologies like cell phones offer alternatives and distractions. People frequently purchase inexpensive, manufactured bedcovers instead of making their own at home. 

Compared to previous generations, domestic textile production has fallen sharply. But quilt production has not disappeared. Today, quilts are made as much for the market as for the home, and production takes place in both domestic and commercial settings. Traditional looking quilts are made with cheaper materials and faster methods—and often, inferior workmanship. The ever-growing tourist market has become a focus of western Indian quiltmaking, and prompted the development of novel styles. Quiltmaking traditions survive in western India, but with significant changes.

Molly Anderson: Intricate Embellishment

Molly Anderson: Intricate Embellishment
Molly Anderson: Intricate Embellishment

Beavers Terrace Gallery
March 21-July 29, 2018

Molly Anderson’s ornate surfaces are dense with color, texture, and materials. Anderson transforms commercially printed fabrics using historical British and American patchwork techniques: broderie perse appliqué, in which smaller pieces carefully cut from printed fabric are sewn onto a larger ground; and English paper piecing, which entails wrapping fabric around a stable paper foundation and then whip-stitching (often identical) shapes together.

Made over the last twenty years, the wall quilts and framed textiles shown here are embellished with hand-embroidery, beads, and found objects to create an invented universe of landscapes, still-lifes, and fantastical creatures.

Recent Acquisitions: Crazy Quilts

Recent Acquisitions: Crazy Quilts
Recent Acquisitions: Crazy Quilts

Third Floor Education Gallery​
April 11-July 29, 2018

The precise origins of Crazy quilts remain a mystery, but the form appeared as a fad in both the U.S. and the U.K. in the late 1800s. The epitome of Victorian “fancywork,” Crazy quilts were both a reaction to and a product of a world in which factory production and global trade were supplanting earlier ways of making and thinking about items for the home. Until the mid-1800s, the appearance and contents of the home were considered reflections of their inhabitants’ values and moral character. The fashion for Crazy quilts grew alongside the notion of “taste” as an expression of individual style.

The typical Crazy quilt is a jigsaw puzzle-like composition—a patchwork—of shapes and textures, ephemera and inscriptions. Silk, satin, and velvet are typical materials, and Crazy quilts often incorporate souvenir ribbons, and embroidered images from nature and popular culture. Figures in the style of English children’s book illustrator Kate Greenaway were especially popular in Crazy quilts, as were Asian design vocabularies disseminated in style guides and in women’s magazines. Known as chinoiserie and japonisme, these styles and motifs were often appropriated, without regard to cultural context, to decorate domestic objects.

The quintessential “high style” Crazy quilt was a parlor piece—too small and fragile to be used as a bedcover, and typically displayed in the formal living room in which Victorian homeowners greeted visitors. Vernacular interpretations—plain, utilitarian Crazy-style quilts made of durable wools or cottons—dispensed with the investment of so much leisure time and labor. The quilts shown here feature such Crazy-style hallmarks as luxurious fabrics and trim, profuse embellishment; asymmetrical design, and imagery that is by turns stylized, standardized, and idiosyncratic.