Published on Education Media Reviews Online (EMRO), Jan 10, 2012
Reviewed by Winifred Fordham Metz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Lori Widzinski, University Libraries, University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Shelly Zegart, a known expert on antique and contemporary quilts, has collected, curated, lectured and written about quilts for over four decades. This deep and abiding passion for quilts is exemplified to valuable effect in Zegart’s series Why Quilts Matter. Originally produced for television, this robust series is a thoughtfully crafted and insightful examination of the American quilt. Covering the history, community and scholarship of the American quilt from early times through its current placement in the art world, Zegart seemingly covers every angle of American quilts and quilting over the course of this lengthy nine-part series.
Why Quilts Matter is broken out into 9 episodes: Antique and Contemporary Quilts, Quilts Bring History Alive, The Quilt Marketplace, What is Art, Gee’s Bend, How Quilts have been Viewed and Collected, Empowering Women One Quilt at a Time, Quilt Nation: 20,000,000 and Counting, Quilt Scholarship: Romance and Reality. In each episode, Zegart engages in an insightful conversation with an array of articulate artists, curators, collectors, dealers, critics and teaching faculty. Very rich in narrative, the series offers a good balance of this expert commentary with visuals of the quilts themselves. Zegart offers a complete image resource guide to all of the images, quilts and people in the episodes at the series’ website.
This series could just as easily serve as a primer on the subject as it could springboard detailed and layered discussions deconstructing and analyzing the aesthetics and politics of the American quilt. It certainly promotes quilt scholarship and underscores Zegart’s desire to “…engage a new audience in the centrality of the quilt to American culture.”
Shelly Zegart, the executive producer and host brings a thorough introduction of the rich world of quilting to the forefront, and her infectious enthusiasm encourages further exploration and research. This fine series has aired on selected PBS stations and is recommended for academic and public library collections. Each episode is further divided into sections, making it optimal for classroom selection and viewing. The Special Features section of the DVD includes some interesting stories from the producers and other quilters including how and why the films were made as well as Bonus Clips.
Read full review on Educational Media Reviews Online.