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QUILTS

Quilts hold history, share culture, and tell stories that would otherwise not be told. They are rich with memories, beauty and emotion. Meet contemporary masters of this surprising and powerful art form.

INTERNATIONAL QUILT MUSEUM, quilts episode
INTERNATIONAL QUILT MUSEUM, Lincoln, Nebraska

Carolyn Ducey, Curator of Collections, and Leslie C. Levy, Executive Director introduce us to the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska where the mission is to build a global collection and audience that celebrate the cultural and artistic significance of quilts. The museum has the world’s largest publicly held collection of approximately 6,000 quilts from more than 50 countries, dating from the 1600s to today. “Quilts are the textile pages of our shared history,” states Levy.

Ken Burns with applique quilt
Ken Burns with applique quilt. photo: evan barlow

We meet historian and storyteller, Ken Burns, a passionate quilt collector who affirms quilts to be the “simplest and most authentic expression of who we are as a people.” 28 quilts from Burns’ American quilt collection were recently exhibited at the International Quilt Museum. He views quilts as an essential building block of culture. “This is what human beings are required to do, to take raw materials and transform them into something greater than the sum of their parts. And that’s what a quilt is, that’s what art is.”

SUSAN HUDSON 29 WARRIORS QUILT
SUSAN HUDSON, 29 WARRIORS QUILT

Susan Hudson, a Navajo/Diné artist from Sheep Springs, NM was taught to sew by her mother who was forced to sew at an “assimilation” boarding school. Hudson’s pictorial quilts honor her ancestors and the proud history of the Navajo people using a crossover style inspired by Ledger art. Recounting history through her ledger quilts has made Hudson an activist storyteller, chronicling the hardships endured by her ancestors.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts
Victoria Findlay Wolfe, A SUMMER'S DAY Quilt

Victoria Findlay Wolfe has a fine art degree in painting but found her life’s passion in quilt making. Now a New York-based International Award-Winning quilter, fabric designer, teacher, author and lecturer, Findlay Wolfe is known for making quilts that look difficult to make, then teaching quilters to make them. Each quilt Findlay Wolfe makes pushes boundaries, supporting her premise that creativity requires risk.

MICHAEL A. CUMMINGS James Baldwin: Born into a lie Quilt
MICHAEL A. CUMMINGS, James Baldwin: Born into a lie Quilt

Michael A. Cummings is a nationally recognized quilter who lives and works in the historic Sugar Hill neighborhood of New York, NY. Self-taught, Cummings brought years of painting and collage skills to his quilt making. Inspired by jazz and working in the narrative tradition, Cummings and his sewing machine tell stories of the African American experience across historical, cultural, philosophical and mythical realms.

JUDITH CONTENT AFTERMATH WALL HANGING QUILT, quilts episode
JUDITH CONTENT, AFTERMATH WALL HANGING QUILT

Judith Content uses inspiration from nature and a Japanese resist dye technique, arashi shibori, to create glorious abstract wall quilts in her Palo Alto, CA studio. Content dyes then composes fabric into an abstract kimono form and uses her sewing machine as a drawing tool to achieve an evanescent visual haiku that communicates to viewers both emotionally and intellectually. These Art Quilts, made to be viewed on walls rather than placed on beds, expand both the definition of the quilt and its place in the art world.


RELATED CONTENT

ARTISTS

Learn more about the artists in the QUILTS episode HERE >

EDUCATION

Craft in America Educational Materials look further at QUILTS as a concept in craft. Visit the EDUCATION section to see what's available and download a Lesson Guide HERE >

Hands of Love Cove Quilting Guild

Quilts for Kids

Victoria Findlay Wolfe on her grandmother quilt

Victoria Findlay Wolfe on her quilts

Judith Content's ceramic installation

Explore the International Quilt Museum collection

QUILTS episode preview