First Quilt Exhibit at Fenimore in 15 Years


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The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York will open a new exhibition on September 24 titled Unfolding Stories: Culture and Tradition in American Quilts, organized by renowned quilt scholar Jacqueline M. Atkins. The exhibition will be on view through December 31. This marks the first time in over 15 years that the Fenimore will display selections from its substantial collection of historical quilts some dating from the early 19th century.

The exhibition explores the many connections that are made throughout and across cultures through the art ofquilting, as well as how these connections have changed over time and place. Almost every culture offers some form of quilting within its textile tradition, yet only in the United States do we see a confluence of traditions, cultures, ethnicities, and innovations that produces the richly diverse quilting culture that exists today.

On view will be approximately 24 quilts distinguished by their design, pattern, and workmanship. The quilts are organized to examine six themes ranging from the history and inventiveness of this time-honored practice to the role that quilts play in revealing values, culture, traditions, and beliefs. Unfolding Stories pieces together this intricate patchwork of diverse connections into a fascinating narrative that grows out of stories embedded in the quilts themselves. Quilts on display include pictorial narratives, one-patch designs, crazy quilts, cut-outs, star quilts, and signature quilts.

“Unfolding Stories looks at how various cultures interpret different designs within the quilting tradition,” remarked Director of Exhibitions at the Fenimore Art Museum, Michelle Murdock. “It demonstrates how cultural and cross-cultural connections are made through design processes as well. Quilts continue to provide visually powerful yet ever-changing texts for us to read, interpret, learn from, andenjoy,” Murdock added.

Also included are the three award-winning quilts from The Farmers’ Museum’s 2010 New York State of Mind Quilt Show. The exhibition is sponsored in part by Fenimore Asset Management.

The exhibition will compliment the many folk art related activities taking place this fall at the Museum including the exhibition Inspired Traditions: Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection ofAmericana opening October 1. Join us across the street at The Farmers’ Museum for this year’s A New York State of Mind Quilt Show – October 8 and 9.

The Fenimore Art Museum’s 2011 Americana Symposium will be held on September 30 and October 1. This new annual event will bring together leading scholars and experts on American history, art, and culture.

Photo: “Trade and Commerce” Quilt Top by Hannah Stockton Stiles (b. 1800), ca. 1835. Possibly Delaware River Valley. Cotton, cotton chintz. 105 x 89 in. Gift of Hannah Lee Stokes. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York.

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