Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Modernism in American Quilts

The Quilt Show #2409 with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims
Recently I appeared on The Quilt Show, episode #2409, talking with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims about modernism in antique and vintage American quilts.

a surprisingly modern design in an 1870s quilt
Modernism is the subject of my second book, "Modern Roots" (2016 C&T/Stash Books) - link.

When I look at old quilts, I see modernism. A lot of antique and vintage quilts do not seem as old as they really are. They look newer, more modern.

this quilt was made in the 1870s
The "surprisingly modern" aspect is one of the things that originally piqued my interest in quilts. If art history is the context for these quilts, as I feel it should be, they would be recognized as predecessors foreshadowing major movements in art history such as cubism and pop art.

1930s Mountain Mist "Jack 'O Lantern" quilt
These quilts are especially relevant today, given the popularity of "modern" quilting and its focus on aesthetics such as mid-century modern. It was nice to have the opportunity to share these quilts with Alex, Ricky and the whole Quilt Show audience.


The book shelves are crying for mercy...in a good way. There's a whole shelf devoted to books that include quilts from my collection. Magazines, too!

I wrote three of those books. The latest one, "Inspired Free-Motion Quilting: 90 Antique Designs Reinterpreted for Today's Quilter" was co-authored with Mandy Leins. 

A few years ago, Bob Shaw published the second edition of his "American Quilts: The Democratic Art" coffee table book. A quilt from my collection was on the cover of the first edition, and was included in the new book with one other quilt from my collection-- a southern pieced quilt from South Carolina.

Sometimes I feel like the absent-minded quilt magnet. Last year, I was excited to hear Christina Cameli's latest book was coming out. The funny thing was I did not remember I had contributed to the book. Christina is a friend. She asked for photos, I said, "Of course!", sent them, and forgot all about it until the book was out.

In the last week, Victoria Findlay Wolfe's new book arrived and I received news of Linda Hahn's new book. I contributed to both of them.

One of my vintage 1970s polyester quilts is currently on tour with the "Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century" exhibition. The quilt also appears in the book.

When I say I am not working on any book projects currently, that may not exactly be true. The good thing is, I love surprises.