For a complete press kit with information about Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics, a nine-part documentary series, click on the link below.  The press kit includes press releases, fact sheets, and all press contact information.

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Video Introduction, by Shelly Zegart


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Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics in the Press

American Style Magazine – “Style Spotlight: Quilts Tell Life Stories in TV Series”

Why Quilts Matter : January 1, 2012 8:36 AM : News, Opinions, Press, Reviews

What matters to historians, artists, politicians, anthropologists, collectors, curators, scholars, ordinary folks, small children and, yes, to the people who make them? Quilts, that’s what, and if you don’t see how all these people could be involved, the nine-part television documentary series Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics will supply the answers.

The series was produced by The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 1981 to create quilt documentation projects. The episodes deal with everything from how quilts are made and valued to why people create quilts, to the history of textiles in quilt making, to quilting culture (one interviewee described it as “the greatest mass movement nobody ever heard of”). Series host and executive producer Shelly Zegart, a co-founder of The Kentucky Quilt Project, has been involved in the quilt world for more than three decades.

One episode showcases the unusual abstract quilts made by African American women in Gee’s Bend, a hamlet in southern Alabama. These quilts became a national sensation in 2002. Another episode deals with the scholarship of quilts, from the study of material culture to sociology.

The series began airing in the fall and will be available to PBS stations until 2014. However, if you’ve missed it, or if your station hasn’t shown it yet, the series is available on a two-DVD set. The discs, which include a number of exclusive bonus features, cost $39.95 and can be ordered from

— Karol V. Menzie

Originally published in American Style Magazine, December 2011, Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012.

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“Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics” Reviewed by

Why Quilts Matter : November 30, 2011 9:32 PM : Academic Reviews, Opinions, Press, Reviews

If you own a handmade quilt, you may think you know why quilts matter. But it’s a guarantee that you don’t know everything about the history and culture of quilts, as revealed in this passionate nine-part documentary.  In the sampled Empowering Women One Quilt at a Time, host Shelly Zegart—author of American Quilt Collections (1998)—introduces five segments, concluding with “Taking On an Icon: One Quilt’s Journey.”  Each segment, backed by guitar and classical music, includes vintage and contemporary film clips and photographs as well as interviews with quilt makers, fabric artists, museum curators, scholars, and more.  The experts detail how quilts became powerful vehicles of expression—a “soft medium to deliver a hard message”—empowering women to move from homemakers to expressive entrepreneurs.  Other episodes include Quilts Bring History Alive, The Quilt Marketplace, and Quilt Scholarship: Romance and Reality. This colorful, well-produced, and fascinating production sees quilts “through the lenses of history, art, and politics.”  Downloadable resource guides with thumbnail photos accompany the series.
— Eloise Kinney

Originally published on


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Interview: Shelly Zegart for LEO

Why Quilts Matter : November 14, 2011 1:41 AM : Press

Art: The Quilt Lady knows best

A look at the documentary series “Why Quilts Matter”


Shelly Zegart is known around these parts as “The Quilt Lady.” As a founding director of The Kentucky Quilt Project and The Alliance for American Quilts, she helped document quilt history and broaden the notion of what, exactly, a quilt is. For Zegart’s latest project, she served as executive producer and host of the documentary series “Why Quilts Matter: History, Art and Politics.” The DVD set (nine episodes plus 20 minutes of bonus features) is $39.95 and is available locally at Carmichael’s Bookstores, Among Friends Quilt Shop and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, as well as at It can also be seen on KET.

LEO spoke with Zegart about how it’s time to rethink what is commonly known about quilts.

LEO: So, why do quilts matter?
Shelly Zegart: They are women’s work. And over the centuries in America, women have told their stories through their quilts. Quilts are at the center of American culture; they speak to women’s empowerment, what is art, American history, material culture, art history and almost every other discipline. Quilts are bigger than you think. We felt the DVD was the next step (in telling the story).

LEO: What exactly is a quilt? How is an “art quilt” different?
SZ: A quilt was considered to be three layers: a backing, a batting and a quilt top. That definition has changed a lot with art or studio quilts, which are quilts made by people coming from an art mindset. Over the years, they have outgrown rectangular shapes and taken all sorts of creative forms. The composition is important.

LEO: I have to admit I thought quilt making was a dying art, yet the series says quilt culture is the largest movement most people don’t know about.
SZ: (Quilt culture) is 21 million people making quilts today and all the supporting and competing endeavors. It is like a small country with all the competitiveness and rivalries of a small country.

LEO: Paducah is the self-proclaimed “city that quilts built.” When did quilting become big business?
SZ: Well, it’s always been around, but (the big business) started in the late 1960s. Paducah and Houston have the big annual shows. Women disembark from the buses — it’s the woman’s equivalent to the guy’s fishing trip.

LEO: What do you consider to be the most important quilt in history?
SZ: The AIDS quilt — it put focus on a movement like no other. It changed the face of the understanding of AIDS and its human toll. Quilts have always been made for causes, like temperance or to raise money; the AIDS quilt just brought this to the public.

LEO: As well known as the AIDS quilt is to the general public, the art world may say another set of quilts are more famous.
SZ: Arguably now it’s the Gee’s Bend quilts (from Gee’s Bend, Ala.), because of their enormous reach into the arms of the art world. They took quilts onto the walls of the great art museums in a way no other quilts have done in this generation.

LEO: The documentary discussed “Sunbonnet Sue.” Who is she and why would anyone what to kill her?
SZ: She was the sappy model of American women, put forth from the turn of the century through the ’70s, when the women’s movement “killed” her off.


Originally posted in LEO, November 9, 2011: 


Image Credits:
Top: The Sun Sets on Sunbonnet Sue. Made by Seamster’s Union Local 500, Lawrence, KS1979. Cotton, cotton polyester blend, velvet, multiple scraps. 62″ x 78″. Photo by Geoffrey Carr. Formerly in the collection of Shelly Zegart. Collection of Great Lakes Quilt Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. More information at

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Common Threads at Green Building Exhibit

Why Quilts Matter : November 4, 2011 6:53 PM : Events, Press

Originally published in Courier-Journal, 11/04/2011

Quilts are garnering an increasing amount of respect in art circles, in part because of large touring exhibits of remarkable quilts.

In addition, more contemporary artists are exploring the use of textiles and quilt-making.

One is Vadis Turner, whose work is in permanent collections at 21c Museum Hotel, The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and the Brooklyn Museum.

Her solo exhibit, “Bowhead Down,” opens Friday with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Green Building Gallery, 732 E. Market St., and runs through Dec. 16.

Turner will be at the gallery at 9:30 a.m. Saturday for a discussion along with Shelly Zegart, a quilt curator, dealer and collector who is also host and producer of the documentary series Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics.

For more information, call (502) 561-1162 or visit

— Elizabeth Kramer, The Courier-Journal

ON THE TOWN – Common threads
Courier – Journal – Louisville, Ky.
Date: Nov 4, 2011

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