About the Series
In 2011, thirty years since its founding, The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc., has created another “first” – a nine-part documentary series titled Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics. The series takes a fresh look at quilts and spreads the word about their unique position at the center of a startlingly broad grid of topics, ranging from women’s studies to the contemporary art market.
Executive Producer and Host for the series, Shelly Zegart, a co-founder of The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc., The Alliance for American Quilts, and an expert at the forefront of quilt study for over three decades, has created the first series for television to show the world that quilts are bigger than people think. Using hundreds of examples from quilt makers past and present, Zegart introduces viewers to a group of enlightened academics, savvy dealers, and passionate quilt makers who share their personal stories, experiences and opinions.
“The making of this documentary has been an extraordinary experience and one that I am very proud to bring to the public,” explains Zegart. “Quilts are our windows into the history, art and politics of this country. However, the subject of quilts and the people who make them is frequently misunderstood as they have long been relegated to discussions of grandma’s patterns and fabric history. The nine episodes of Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics spotlight both the passion and the differing points of view surrounding the quilt and its culture.”
Written by Ann E. Berman, author and former art world journalist, and produced by Doug Jefferson, founder of Focal Point Productions, Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics was independently produced and funded.
Shelly Zegart, executive producer and host, was a founding director of The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc. (1981), the first state documentation project — a model used around the world, and The Alliance for American Quilts (1993). She curates exhibitions, lectures and writes on all aspects of quilt history and aesthetics. Exhibition projects include Mosaic Textiles: In Search of the Hexagon, Rouen, France (2003) and antique quilt exhibitions curated for the Great International Quilt Festival in Tokyo (2005, 2007, 2008). Her book, American Quilt Collections: Antique Quilt Masterpieces was published by Nihon Vogue in Tokyo (1998). Her article “Myth and Methodology: Shelly Zegart Unpicks African American Quilt Scholarship” was published in Selvedge Magazine, London, England, (2008). She bought and sold fine quilts for more than 30 years, building many significant public and private collections. A member of Appraisers Association of America, Zegart appraises public and private quilt collections. Her personal collection was acquired and exhibited by The Art Institute of Chicago (2002). For the past two and a half years Zegart has been working on producing the documentary series, Why Quilts Matter: History, Art and Politics. Zegart holds a B.A. in education from the University of Michigan.
Ann E. Berman
Ann E. Berman is an author and retired art world journalist. After earning an M.A. in American material culture and museum curatorship from the University of Pennsylvania, she became a paintings specialist at Christie’s in New York, and a member of the American Society of Appraisers. Since then, she has written for many periodicals including Architectural Digest, Forbes, Martha Stewart Living, Town & Country, and the Leisure and Arts page of the Wall Street Journal. She was also a longtime contributing editor at Art & Auction and a contributing writer at Traditional Home. Her book credits include the catalogue raisonnee for the artist Reynolds Beal (1989), Living with Quilts for Phyllis George (1998), Buying and Wearing Classic Vintage Clothes with Tiffany Dubin (2000) and Good Things from Tag Sales and Flea Markets for Martha Stewart (2002). Berman has appeared on Conseulo Mack Wealth Track on PBS and contributed numerous interviews to HGTV On the Radio. She is currently president of the Mandell and Madeleine Berman Foundation and a board member of the Jewish Home Lifecare System and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.
Doug Jefferson is the founder of Focal Point Productions. For more than 20 years, Focal Point has been a full service film, video and multimedia company striving to make their clients/partners successful through outstanding and innovative communication in all audio and video media. Besides being an owner and overseeing all the creative material that his company produces, Doug is also a director and editor. He has produced videos for Grammy-winning artists as well as TV programming for MTV Networks and CMT (Country Music Television). His company also specializes in healthcare, producing marketing, training and awareness pieces for hospitals and healthcare networks all over the country.
The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc.
DVD Package Design
Kathleen Lang Design
Post Production Facility
Focal Point Productions
Lisa Veigl Swikert
Image Research Assistant
Website and Technical Assistance
Web Design Labs, LLC
Karen S. Musgrave
Kathleen M. Lang
Mary Ellen Furlong
Kentucky Educational Television
Dr. Linda Elisabeth Beattie
Dr. Carol Ely
Dr. Marcie Cohen Ferris
Dr. William Ferris
Dr. James Grubola
Dr. Bernard Herman
“The time for this series is now. For too long Grandma’s hope chest and Sunbonnet Sue have dominated quilt discussions. In ‘Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics’ history and heritage count, but so does cutting-edge art.”
- Linda Elisabeth Beattie,
Kentucky Author & Quilt Historian
Why Quilts Matter:
History, Art & Politics
A Series of Firsts
- The First documentary series that reveals the centrality of quilts to American culture by taking the viewer on a journey with a host of collectors, artists, quilt makers, scholars, and dealers
- The First documentary series that goes beyond the “how to” and the history of quilts to capture the interest of a broad audience, and change preconceived notions about quilts
- The First documentary series to delve into quilts from an array of fresh perspectives including history, art, politics, women’s empowerment, and their surprising links to corporate America
- The First documentary series to take the viewer behind the scenes for an insider’s look at quilts in the museum world as well as in the marketplace
- The First documentary series to analyze the size, breadth, and meaning of the hidden ‘quilt culture’ in America and why it is often called the largest mass movement most people don’t know about
- The First documentary series to present a vast number of arresting and memorable images of quilts from such an expansive range of time periods and traditions
- The First documentary series to air on a limited number of PBS stations over the next three years
- The First documentary series that provides the viewer with a set of Image Resource Guides, downloadable reference repositories housing information about each image seen in every episode. They are available at the Resources section of this website. Download them to your iPad or laptop or print them out and follow along as you watch each episode.