Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quilting up a storm of activity

By: Michelle Murdock, Curator of Exhibitions
In January of 2004 (hard to believe it was that long ago!) I had an amazing opportunity to participate in the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival held at the Tokyo Dome. Fenimore Art Museum sent 35 of our best quilts to the Festival to be featured in their showcase exhibition. I worked with guest curator Jacquie Atkins to install and answer questions about our exhibition Uncommon Quilts: Treasures from the Fenimore Art Museum. We greeted over 289,000 (!!) women, men, and children from all over the world during the course of seven days. Many visitors to the exhibition wanted to learn more about Fenimore Art Museum. It was an amazing opportunity for us to gain true international exposure. The quilts at Fenimore Art Museum include textile masterpieces that represent the history of New York State and each reflects the historical, social, and cultural context of its time. For example, one of the most unusual quilts ever made in America, known as “Trade and Commerce,” shows its maker was clearly familiar with the busy river commerce so important in the development of New York State. This unique pictorial quilt, made about 1825 by Hannah Stockton Stiles, is a lively appliqué depiction of life along the shores and on the waters of a major river.
During 2010 and 2011 Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum are embarking on a brand new quilt project. Next year we will hold a state-wide juried quilt competition and exhibit the entries in the Louis C. Jones Center at The Farmers’ Museum in the fall. We will also exhibit many of our historic quilts on beds throughout the Historic Village.
The top three winners from the competition at The Farmers’ Museum will be included in an exhibition at Fenimore Art Museum in 2011. The exhibition will feature our masterpiece quilts such as Night Hunt from our permanent collection. The Farmers’ Museum will continue to feature quilts in the Historic Village and both museums will host lectures, workshops and seminars on the art. Finally, the Fenimore exhibition will hit the road in 2012, traveling to several venues throughout the United States.
Are you a quilter? Do you know a quilter? Maybe you want to become a quilter! We want your quilts! Keep your eyes peeled for more details on the competition, coming soon.
Top: Inside the "Tokyo Dome"
Center: Trade and Commerce. Quilt top, ca. 1835. Gift of Hannah Lee Stokes, N0222.1956.
Bottom: Night Hunt. Quilt, 1885. Gift of Dorothy E. Hubbard, N0024.1973

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