The International Quilt Study Center and Museum University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, Nebraska

“Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics” on KET2 – Episode 9, “Quilt Scholarship: Romance and Reality”

Episode 9, “Quilt Scholarship: Romance and Reality,” premiers on KET2 on Monday, October 31, at 7PM EST.

Presentation Quilt By the members of The Young Ladies Sewing Society for Susan Elizabeth Daggett, 1871.From the colonial period to present day, quilts have always been a means of creative expression.  They are virtually one of the only art forms with an unbroken chain of production for more than 200 years.  Because quilts are icons of American culture, quilt scholarship is vital. “It is important for the same reason any historical art research is important.”  Elizabeth Warren, trustee and guest curator at American Folk Art Museum in New York, added, “otherwise it’s just a beautiful object. It needs to be placed in context, in history… so you know something about its past.  You can look at art and appreciate it and you can look at a quilt and appreciate it but there is more meaning if you know something about it.”  I couldn’t agree more!

Unfortunately, some facts have a way of growing and changing just like a good game of gossip.  One of the most common quilt myths involves the Underground Railroad.  As the story goes, quilts supposedly told runaway slaves which direction to go in order to escape to safety.  Although a nice thought, these types of stories were nearly impossible to prove and highly unlikely.

Universities around the country are offering more and more classes about quilts.  Because quilts began with domestic roots, they weren’t studied academically until the 19th century.  Now, experts are teaching students how quilts are central to many historic and artistic topics. Academics ultimately provide a broader level of interpretation of these vital pieces of material culture.  This is what this series is all about.  I hope the Scholarship episode will show you how far quilt scholarship has come over the years, and why debunking the legends and folklore really does matter!

If you can let us know about a piece of quilt scholarship that most people don’t know about, please join us for a discussion on Facebook!

– Shelly Zegart

 

→ Find out more about Episode 9, “Quilt Scholarship: Romance and Reality”

→ Watch Episode 9 Preview

→ Image Resource Guide for Episode 9

 

Image Credits:

Top: The International Quilt Study Center and Museum University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, Nebraska. www.quiltstudy.org

Left: Presentation Quilt, (1871). By the members of The Young Ladies Sewing
Society for Susan Elizabeth Daggett. Cotton. 68″ x 76″. Photo by Geoffrey Carr
Formerly in the collection of Shelly Zegart. Collection of The Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, Illinois.

Old Maid, New Woman -- The Story of the Presentation Quilt (1871) - Article by Shelly Zegart (1986)Learn more about the story of and research behind the Presentation Quilt in the “Old Maid, New Woman” article by Shelly Zegart.

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