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Current Exhibits


SAQA: Food for Thought

A Tradition of Variations The National Quilt Museum Collection Oh WOW!
Miniature Quilts

SAQA: Food for Thought

April 10 - July 8, 2015

We eat every day, but how often do we really think about the food we eat? Every culture has its celebrations, family meals, traditions that involve food. Although these vary in different parts of the world, the impact of food is universal. Food nourishes and fuels our bodies; food traditions nurture our souls.

Food For Thought is an exhibition of 34 innovative quilts created by members of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). With SAQA members residing worldwide, there was ample opportunity to reflect a wide variety of methods of growing and producing food, not to mention a host of regional cuisines and ingredients. In the artwork presented here, titles often hint at cultural backgrounds or the provenance of a favorite recipe, as do the choices of patterns and fabric motifs. Yet the world has become so interconnected that it is no longer always possible to identify a person’s locale through the foods they eat.

Mushroom Frittata by Jean M. Sredl

Perhaps our response to food boils down to the elements that everyone everywhere experiences, such as food preparation. Starting with harvesting and gathering ingredients, then cooking or otherwise constructing a dish, the enjoyment of eating, and finally rinsing the peels down the drain; the making of food is something everyone can relate to.

There is something inviting about a single piece of fruit. The bright color of a plump red tomato or the exotic contours of a dragon fruit are inspiration enough. Honoring the perfect ingredient is delicious subject matter. The long tradition of table-scapes in art is also perfect fodder for this theme. The table might indicate a time of abundance or a time of want. A still life implicitly invites a friend to a meal, be it a birthday, a religious or cultural festivity, or just Tuesday. A particular recipe can be a connection to one’s traditions and ancestors.

Of course the darker side of thinking about food is when people don’t have enough. How does nourishment in first world countries compare to that in the developing world? Do we have the luxury of exalting the alluring and sumptuous on special occasions? Or is one simple meal each day reason enough to celebrate? Often, we admire what appear to be simple ways of processing food and eschew the industrialized food industry. But is a seemingly idyllic image actually pointing out a resource divide indicative of the many around the world who live at a subsistence level? Can food production keep up with population growth, and how does that affect food quality? Solutions require expanding the way we think about food, be it focused on production, distribution, or consumption. Artists have a part in highlighting the growing concern about the current trajectory of life on earth and therefore about the value of food and thus life itself.

Food For Thought offers a great balance between the beauty of individual food items and the importance of food in other aspects of life. Exploring this exhibit for themes and variation, comparison and contrast, for the bounty of color, design, and concept, will undoubtedly enrich and inspire viewers. It’s an exhibition of wonderful artworks that approach a theme that everyone can relate to from a variety of different perspectives.

Eat Actual Food by Judith Roderick
Heirlooms by Elaine H. Millar
A Tradition of Variations from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection

May 22 - August 17
We think of traditional quilt blocks as having certain specific designs. This exhibit features traditional quilts with unique styles.

Click here to read more about A Tradition of Variations.

Click here to read more about the Pilgrim/Roy Collection.

Click on quilt image for larger view.

The National Quilt Museum Collection

The National Quilt Museum's main gallery is made up of quilts from the Museum's own collection. Currently, the Museum has over 320 quilts from over 350 different quilt makers in our collection. At any given time, 50-60 of these quilts are on display in the gallery for the public to view. The rest of the collection is housed in our temperature and humidity controlled vault.

Our collection is made up of some of the most extraordinary quilts ever produced. The majority of the quilts in our collection are award winners from regional and national contests. Others have been chosen for a number of different reasons including their uniqueness or their historic relevance. The collection is quite diverse, including quilts of many different styles from quilters throughout the world. If you would like to get information on the collection, the Museum produces a collection book with information on each of the quilts. The book is available through our online shop.

How do we choose the quilts for our collection? The Museum received thousands of submittals for collection consideration each year. A collection committee made up of well respected quilters and appraisers makes the final decision on which quilts will ultimately become part of the collection. Only one exception to this process exists. Each year the winning quilts at the AQS Paducah Quilt Show are added to the Museum's collection without having to go through the typical process for selection.

We take great pride in quality and diversity of the Museum collection and we will continue to expand it as time goes forward.

Click here to purchase our collection book.

The museum's collection became available online in partnership with the Alliance for the American Quilt through the Quilt Index. To see all of the museum's quilts, visit www.quiltindex.org.

Oh WOW! Miniature Quilts

There and Back Again by Teri Barile
Click for Detail

Miniature quilts have grown in popularity and sophistication over the past several years. These quilts are made to scale as any size quilt would be; they are simply smaller in scale. As a general rule, to be considered a 'miniature quilt' a quilt must be no more than 24 inches on a side

The first reaction people have when they see these tiny wonders is "Oh, Wow!" Says National Quilt Museum founder Bill Schroeder, "No better words could describe this remarkable collection of miniature quilts. The more carefully you look at them, the more you will agree."