"Workt by Hand": Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts

quiltMAY 25 – SEPTEMBER 1, 2014

"Workt by Hand": Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts showcases approximately thirty-five American and European quilt masterpieces from the Brooklyn Museum's renowned decorative arts collection. Spanning two centuries of quilt making, the exhibition features superlative examples of the most iconic quilt designs and techniques, including the "Barn Raising" or "Log Cabin" style, the "Garden Basket" style, "Double Wedding Band" designs, the "Rose of Sharon" pattern, and the Amish "Sunshine and Shadow" style, as well as a variety of album quilts.

Combining social and quilt history, the exhibition includes a remarkable early nineteenth-century patchwork "Liberty Quilt," attributed to Elizabeth Welsh of Warren County, Virginia (now West Virginia) that exemplifies how women created and disseminated iconic American revolutionary symbols. A major example of the popular and highly publicized "Crazy Quilt" pattern by Mary A. Stinson (circa 1880), intricately made with newly affordable, vibrantly-colored textiles, speaks to women's role as producers and consumers at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Historic installation photographs depicting the variety of quilt display techniques, newspaper clippings, sample pieces of quilts, and other ephemeral and contextual material will provide further insight into both the history of quilts and the history of exhibiting quilts, which has influenced the way they have been seen and understood. Quilts will be presented both vertically—as they are now frequently shown in museums and galleries—and horizontally, as though on the beds for which they were originally designed.

"Workt by Hand": Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts is organized by the Brooklyn Museum.

Image credit: Elizabeth Welsh (American), Medallion Quilt, circa 1830. Cotton, 110 ½ x 109 in. (280.7 x 267.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Roebling Society, 78.36. Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012.

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