Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Infinite Variety - Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts

The American Folk Art Museum presented a very special quilt collection in the Park Avenue Armory. The show was free to the public but only open from March 25th - 30th. On display - 651 red and white quilts belonging to one private collector, Joanna S. Rose. The show was a gift to New York City from her and her husband in celebration of her 80th birthday. The Park Avenue Armory is a huge open space (something like 55,000 sq ft) - the actual display was set up by a design firm and the layout was breath taking. It all started with a small circle of chairs, representing a quilting bee. From this circle a "tornado" of quilts swirled up to the ceiling. Around the center spiral there were large round pods of quilts that were hung from floor to ceiling. The resulting display was like a giant house of cards. I felt like Alice lost in Wonderland wandering through quilt after quilt. The quilts were hung using wire and large cardboard tubes. Both the tubes and the wire faded in to the background and it was almost as if the quilts were floating mid-air. A graphic artist actually determined where each quilt was placed in the display. First she matched each quilt by size, as they were hung back to back she made sure each pair was the same size. Then she arranged them putting the quilts with less intricate designs higher and those with fine details at eye level.
The quilts spanned three centuries with most from the 19th century. The patterns, the quilting, the applique - it was overwhelming. You could walk up and look at all of the fine details and see the craftsmanship in each stitch.

The quilt designs were so inspiring, I was ready to pull out the sewing machine and start on my own red and white quilt creation last night.

Tomorrow I'll post some close up photos of my favorites from the show.