Quilt Exhibit

On the way home from MAQ, my friend Jane and I detoured through Harrisburg to see the 20/20 Quilt Exhibit at the Susquehanna Art Museum. Twenty contempory quilts and twenty traditional quilts were selected. In the curator's notes, Pat Pauly says the exhibit is “an open discussion on both the stylistic changes in the quilt genre, and the new work that has transformed the term quilt.”
I thought that the quilts would all be hung in pairs, and some were. Like this quilt by Sue Benner in front of an Amish quilt.
Another paired set of old and new quilts. Most of the traditional quilts were sewn by “Unknown Maker” and many were from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection. The art quilt is by Paula Kovarik.
Sometimes the quilts were side by side. This Amish style quilt kept company with this contemporary quilt.
Jane Sassaman is a well known quilt artist and has influenced many quilters.
I love the detail in her quilting stitch. It's difficult to photograph, but the black borders are also quilted with the patterned stitching. The traditional quilts hanging near this quilt were not so obviously paired, giving the viewer a chance to explore her own connections and comparisons.
I always try to appreciate the sight lines in an art exhibit. So much thought goes into the longer views. Just beyond my camera range, is an enormous pieced quilt by Eleanor McCain, unfortunately my photo was out of focus. I think it would be interesting to collect and compile the photos taken. I hardly snapped any pictures of the traditional quilts but I bet Jane's camera has every one, with 5 detail shots of each.
This was my favorite quilt, made by Ginny Smith. I think it represents the old and new in quilt making. Some of the fabrics chosen are new, like the Asian themed quilt fabric in the vases. The block backgrounds have the look of old shirtings and may actually be from repurposed clothing.
She also used both machine stitching and hand stitching on her quilt.
I enjoyed seeing all the quilts, both old and new. I'm thinking about my own work and how the traditions of the past influence what I do. I've often thought my quilts are not “quilty” enough for traditional rules and not “artsy” enough for the art world. It isn't important to me to “fit into” either genre, but it is interesting to hear the dialog going on in my head. I think this is what Pat Pauly ment by “open discussion.” The quilts are glorious, beautifully displayed and thoughtfully selected. I appreciated the timeless language of design and felt inspired creatively.
Quilts 20/20 Traditional Works Contemporary Art is on view until August 30.





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