Monday, July 18, 2011

American Folk Art Museum, Part One

I'm having a health issue right now that requires me not to spend time in the heat and sun, and because I don't have AC in my apartment, that means no sewing! Last week I tried to sew, ended up heating my apartment to almost 95, and made my condition significantly worse. So this is the perfect time to post my photos from my trip to the American Folk Art Museum in NYC.

I had wanted to go to this show with my friend Yahaira, but Amy and I ended up needing to visit the city for something during the last few days of the show, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to see it (the show closed on July 8). I took a non-quilter friend, and yall know how that can be, but she was a good sport about the whole thing.

(Excuse the glare, through which you can see my legs and feet!)

Like all quilt shows I've attended, it was organized by type of quilt, which roughly corresponded to periods of years (though not always). They also displayed a few total outliers. I plan to write a separate post about the Log Cabin quilts, but here are some of my favorites from the other portions.

The museum grouped together the applique and signature quilts from its collection. It displayed one gorgeous Baltimore Album quilt, which was by far the best example of such quilts that I have ever seen in real life:

Here is my favorite block, which depicts the Capitol building:

What struck me most about this quilt was the very modern color combination. It reminded me of a few Moda fabric lines from the last year and a half or so.

A few other images from this portion are below. Many of the quilts featured writing or images drawn directly on the front of the quilt. In this particular star signature quilt, each block contained a very detailed image, like the bird below:

The messages drawn on the following quilt were faded from wear and difficult to discern. I wish I could have read them, but they probably were never intended for the prying eyes of the public anyway! I loved the following block in particular; most of the work you see is embroidery. I've noticed many more quilts with surface embroidery recently.

This whitework quilt was the best-preserved quilt I've ever seen at a quilt show. It dates to around 1800, if you can believe it. There wasn't a tear or stain in sight.

I particularly loved this quilt, which featured a stunning likeness of our 22nd and 24th President, Mr. Grover Cleveland:

Since President Cleveland was not married when he entered office, I like to think that some young woman was pining away for the strong and handsome Grover during the making of this quilt. I'm pretty sure it was the work of a quilt guild, though.

This Dresden Plate quilt represented the entire 30s. I appreciated the work that went into it, but I didn't feel very drawn to it, even though I love repros. I guess it didn't help that some irresponsible parents were allowing their three young children to grab at it and pull on it while I was trying to take photographs. (My friend, who has been a nanny in NYC for years, didn't help matters by muttering angrily about the childrens' poor behavior.)

The show also featured a section on African American quilts, with a lovely writeup about how few African American quilts have survived, out of an unknown number that were created. I left wondering how diverse the African American quilting tradition really was and is, and if what we think of as the style of African American quilting is even wholly accurate.

Of course, there were many other quilts at the show. I hope you got a chance to go to one of the two exhibitions the museum hosted. I thought they did a beautiful job. They chose wonderful examples from their collections, and I am so happy I had the opportunity to visit. But the best is yet to come. Stay tuned for the second part of my writeup!


  1. I think I like the last one the best - great use of the green!

  2. I can't believe we didn't chat about this today! So amazing!!