Art Quilts from Around the World on Display in New Exhibit at American Textile History Museum:

July 24, 2004 – October 10, 2004

Beginning July 24, the American Textile History Museum will team up with the Museum of Arts & Design in New York to present a remarkable assembly of quilts in a special exhibition tracing the development of the art quilt from the 1930s to the present. Titled Art Quilts from the Collection of the Museum of Arts & Design, the show is a survey of art quilts from around the world in the collection of the Museum of Arts & Design (formerly the American Craft Museum). Showcased are more than 20 quilts by artists from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, South Africa, Japan, and Australia. Most of the quilts are recent acquisitions from MAD’s permanent collection. The exhibition runs at the American Textile History Museum through October 10.

Katherine Westphal

Katherine Westphal , Tiepolo, 1969
Hand printing, stuffing, quilting
Collection Museum of Arts & Design. Gift of the Johnson Wax
Company, from OBJECTS: USA, 1977. Donated to the American Craft
Museum by the American Craft Council, 1990.
Photo: Eva Heyd, © Museum of Arts & Design, NYC

“We appreciate the opportunity to bring so many fine works to the public in this area from one of the most important and far-reaching collections in the country,” says Michael J. Smith, president and CEO of the American Textile History Museum. “We celebrate this presentation as a symbol of the unifying spirit that artists bring to enrich our world.”

Exhibition curator Ursula Ilse-Neuman of MAD says, “Quilts combine the tactility of sculpture, the expressive range of the painter’s palette, and the communicative power of photography. These artists share the ability to draw on their personal visions to express ideas that touch everyone.”

“These works of art show how quilting is now embraced around the world as a valuable medium for contemporary art,” says Diane Fagan Affleck, director of interpretation at the American Textile History Museum. “The quilt has become a form of artistic expression for both male and female contemporary artists who look to the quilts as their medium because of their potential for manipulability, textural qualities, and expressiveness, as well as a means of working with color, form, and image.”

The exhibition examines developments in art quilting around the world from early use of traditional quilting techniques and compositions to the incorporation of non-traditional techniques such as photo transfer and oil painting, and innovative materials including plastics and found objects.

The earliest piece in the exhibition is from a group of quilts designed by Ruth Clement Bond and made in 1934 by the wives of African-American construction workers building dams for the Tennessee Valley Authority. It exemplifies the move away from a functional quilt to the use of the quilt form as an expressive medium. That same refocusing of the quilt is evident in “Tiepolo,” created by Katherine Westphal, one of the founders of the contemporary art movement. Alluding to the work of the 18th century Italian artist of the same name who was known for his ceiling paintings frescoes, Westphal designed her three-dimensional quilt to billow from the ceiling rather than hanging on the wall or decorating a bed.

Artworks in the exhibition by Michael James, Marilyn Henrion and Nancy Crow mark the true institution of the quilt as a contemporary art form and completely distinct genre. Nancy Crow was one of the first quilt artists to receive the acclaim and presentation of her art within the mainstream art world. Michael James’ successful shift from painter to quilter has since reached fruition through his involvement with the University of Nebraska- Lincoln as Professor of Textiles, Clothing and Design, and the University-affiliated, International Quilt Study Center, where he brings his insight to a new generation of textile artists.

Miwako Kimura and Yael David-Cohen’s works attest to the broadening interest in the art quilt around the world over the past ten to fifteen years. Kimura uses an image that is traditional in Japanese culture but in an innovative way. David-Cohen has created a piece that incorporates her painted canvas in a quilt that is as far from tradition and function as possible while still fitting the definition of a quilt.

Art Quilts from the Collection of the Museum of Arts & Design was made possible in part by Annual Fund donors of the American Textile History Museum. In connection with the exhibition, the Museum’s Textile Learning Center (TLC) will feature quilt-themed activities and play area for families with children ages 6 – 12.

The Museum of Arts & Design for nearly half a century has served as the country’s premier institution dedicated to the collection and exhibition of contemporary objects created in craft media such as clay, glass, wood, metal, and fiber.

The American Textile History Museum tells America’s story through the art, history and science of our textiles. Features include the ongoing “Textiles in America” exhibition and children’s Textile Learning Center(TLC); Special Exhibition Gallery and TLC displays. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for students, seniors, and groups; free for children under 6 and Museum members. The Museum is located at 491 Dutton Street in Lowell, adjacent to the Lowell National Historical Park, 35 miles north of Boston off Route I-495. The building is wheelchair accessible, and parking is free. Telephone 978-441-0400.

Marilyn Henrion

Marilyn Henrion
Innuendo, 1998
Silk; 35 x 50″
Collection Museum of Arts & Design.
Gift of D. C. Earle and J. L. Henrion, 2000
Photo: Eva Heyd (c) Museum of Arts & Design, NYC


Wendy Huhn

Wendy Huhn
Wash Day, 1994
Cotton, glitter, paint;38 x 38″
Collection Museum of Arts & Design.
Gift of the artist, 2001
Photo: Irving Solero, (c) Museum of Arts & Design, NYC


Kathyanne White

Kathyanne White
Rambunctious, 2001
Cotton, canvas backing; 40 x 50″
Collection Museum of Arts & Design.
Gift of the artist, 2001
Photo: Irving Solero, (c) Museum of Arts & Design, NYC


Michael James

Michael James
Crash Site, 1996
Cotton; 77 x 94″
Collection Museum of Arts & Design. Gift of the artist, 1997
Photo: Eva Heyd, (c) Museum of Arts & Design, NYC


Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella
Snow on Mount Fuji, 1985
Silk, cotton, polyester batting ; 132 x 86″
Collection Museum of Arts & Design.
Gift of Martha and Pat Connell, 1991 Photo (c) Museum of Arts & Design


Miwako Kimura

Miwako Kimura
“Hohju” – The Sacred Ball, 1989
Vintage cotton; hand pieced, hand applique, hand embroidery, hand quilting;
67 x 62″
Collection Museum of Arts & Design. Gift of the artist, 2001
Photo: (c) Museum of Arts & Design

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