Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Cartography of Quilts

The trip to New York was unexpected but once set, I quickly made an ordered list of all the museums and shows in town. All went well until we arrived home. I caught some bug so instead of working on map quilts I'll share some photos while I recuperate.

The first stop was the Self-Taught Genius Gallery, an offshoot of the American Folk Art Museum over in Queens. The very modest entrance is highlighted by a small red awning.

Self-Taught Genius Gallery entrance

Ring the bell, walk upstairs to a single gallery for the well-curated exhibit, Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts. Sarah Margolis-Pineo curated the exhibit and was on hand the when I visited. She is a writer with a deep appreciation of quilting. Reading the first paragraph of her description I was struck by how her words focus attention on our six-month Map invitation.

"Looking across city blocks and quilt blocks, roadways and seams, one can see a visible kinship between quilt making and cartography. Both are built upon established systems that use color, pattern, and symbols to create whole compositions from a network of interlocked parts. Quilts and maps are also infused with history and memory - similarly living records of traditions, experiences, relationships, beliefs, and future aspirations. What can be gleaned from a bit of patchwork cut from a wedding dress, castoff feed sack, or commemorative flag? How are personal, political, cultural, and spiritual ideals inscribed onto a quilt's surface, creating a network of roadways and landmarks that illustrate the quilt maker's world and his or her place within it?" - Sarah Margolis-Pineo


Self-Taught Genius Gallery in Queens

Several crazy quilts were displayed, including the only physical recreation of a map.  As curator, Sarah also incorporated contemporary paper maps and a wooden wall sculpture in the exhibit. A political crazy quilt mapped/highlighted critical events of Grover Cleveland's 1884 presidential election.

Map quilt by Anonymous, 1886. Possibly VA. Silk and cotton velvets and brocade with embroidery.

The quilter showcased a variety of beautiful stitches throughout. The couched ribbon for the Mississippi River and its tributaries was particularly effective.

Detail of Mississippi River system on Map quilt by Anonymous, 1886.
Susan Arrowood mapped biblical events that were significant to her religious beliefs in her quilt, The Sacret Bibel.

"Sacret Bibel" quilt top by Susan Arrowood, possibly West Chester, PA 1875-95. 

She inked explanations near some of the scenes.

Detail of "Sacret Bibel" quilt top by Susan Arrowood, possibly West Chester, PA 1875-95. 

This redwork spread covered with animals and  soldiers might illustrate a political or cultural map. Every man carried a some kind of weapon - sword, gun, rifle... {If there'd been more women leaders, would we have had fewer wars?} The coal scuttles of Christmas 1902 reprise the same story we see today - the rich man's is full while the poor man is empty.

Detail of In Honor Shall Wave spread by Anonymous, 1902. Yonkers, NY.

Textile manufacturing was critical to the development of America. Indeed, it was a flashpoint of the Revolution. The Hewson-Center quilt showcases many elegant cotton fabrics including the center block which was printed by John Hewson of Philadelphia.


Hewson-Center quilt with multiple borders by Anonymous. Center block printed by John Hewson, 1790-1810. 

The exhibit included a beautiful pink, green and white Whig Rose quilt in addition to this Pennsylvania spread appliqued on cheddar mapping her life on the family farm,

Applique Bedcover by Sarah Ann Garges, 1853. Doylestown, PA. Cotton, silk, wool, and wool embroidery.

and this stunning silk Log Cabin - another mapping of fabrics.

Log Cabin quilt, Barn Raising variation possibly by Sarah Lamb King (1818-82) US. Silk.

Look at all these plaids and stripes.

Detail of Log Cabin quilt, Barn Raising variation possibly by Sarah Lamb King.
Enjoy the day, Ann

16 comments:

  1. So sorry you came home unwell - but what an amazing exhibit to have seen!

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    1. Thanks, Julie. Exhibits curated by non-quilters have such a different feel than show.

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  2. Wonderful exhibit. I love the last pic, showing the log cabin details! And the cheddar bedcover is beautiful, a very clever way of 'mapping' one's life!

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    1. You and me, Linda! Silk has rich reflections; I saw that one out of the corner of my eye almost everywhere in the room. The maker carefully arranged the darks by value and then placing a single L of red on almost each light side made the design stunning. She had some marvelous purples, plaids, and stripes, too.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your photos, Ann. Good opportunity.
    I like the embroidered crazy map quilt, amazing.
    I hope you get better soon.

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    1. Thanks, Janie. I'm on the mend but may be a week or more before I'm back to normal. I've seen similar maps in books; it was a complete change to see it in person where I could look at the details of each section and still back up to observe their interactions.

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  4. wow - what amazing quilts. THat Log cabin is just stunning. Thank you so much for sharing your journey - feel better

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    1. Thanks, Alycia. Her arrangement was fabulous and making it of silks adds to the luster. The darks are sewn by value. I love the way she added two red logs on the light side. I can't wait to try that myself.

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  5. How fitting that you were able to go to an exhibit that was in keeping with the current theme of the AHIQ. Thanks for posing so many of the fabulous quilts you saw. Hope you feel better soon!

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    1. Wasn't that amazing? What are the chances that our topic and their exhibit would coincide so well? I hope you enjoy them as much as I had.

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  6. Thank you for . sharing his with those of us who don't have to chance to visit these places (mainly because I live in the UK!!)

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    1. Mainly I see quilts at shows. It's significantly different to see them in exhibits - in part because they are curated by someone with art training who is usually not a quilter.
      Some day I hope to see many at the V&A. In my dreams.

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  7. What a fabulous Show! Thanks for all the pix and commentary! Hope you feel better soon!

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    1. It was a little gem, Claire. Thanks.

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  8. I hope that you kicked the bug and thank you for the beautiful shares :)

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    1. I’m improving but tire easily. Lots of naps for me. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of the exhibit.

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