History, art and politics of quilts

Apr 08, 2013

Coastal Quilters will meet Saturday, April 13 at the Camden Lions Club on Lion’s Lane in Camden from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. for the regular monthly program/meeting.

The program begins promptly at 9:30 a.m. (come early for coffee) and features "Gee’s Bend: The Most Famous Quilts in America?,” Episode 5 of the Kentucky Quilt Project’s nine-part PBS documentary series, Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics. The program will be followed by refreshments, an abbreviated show and tell and a short business meeting.

Then folks are invited to head to the Thomaston Federated Church, 8 Hyler St. in Thomaston for the Area 2 Quilters’ program/meeting which begins with a brown bag lunch at noon and quilt dating of one's own antique quilts by Wendy Reed. Reed will then present a special program at 1:30 p.m. showing and discussing antique quilts from 1820 -1930.

The Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics series takes a fresh look at quilts and explains the unique position of quilts at the center of a broad grid of topics, ranging from women’s studies to the contemporary art market. The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc. created the highly acclaimed series in 2011, 30 years after the group’s founding. Executive Producer and series host 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), created the series for television to show the world that quilts are bigger than people think.

According to 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.”

Episode 5: Gee’s Bend: “The Most Famous Quilts in America?” is of special interest to quilters of all ages, backgrounds, levels whether they create traditional quilts or art quilts or other types of fabric art.

This episode traces the discovery by the outside world of the Gees Bend quilts, made by African American women from the obscure hamlet in southern Alabama (the middle of nowhere), and the journey the quilts made from clotheslines there to New York City museum walls. The group of unusual, abstract quilts rocked the art world to its foundations in 2002 with people lined up around the block to see them and the critic from The New York Times gushed as, for the first time, the quilt became the subject of a museum blockbuster.

The episode also explores the aesthetic and social appeal of these quilts—and quilters—as well as the controversies they engendered and thoroughly analyzes their unique place in quilt history.

The PBS series created buzz since its debut with its unprecedented in-depth exploration of the diverse, kaleidoscopic world of quilts and "quilt culture." The entire series is available, with a discussion guide, from local, MINERVA libraries or from local quilters’ libraries. You can also get a full description of the series and see sample offerings from each episode at whyquiltsmatter.org.

Whether one's passion is making quilts, collecting quilts, talking about quilts, women's art, quilt or women's history, there will be much to love, to think and to talk about in Why Quilts Matter.

Both the activities in Camden and Thomaston for this fun-filled quilting day are free and open to the public, all welcome. For more information, call Prudy Netzorg, 354-0938 Stevie Kumble, 236-2352.




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