Exhibit explores American folk art of quilts

Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:17pm EDT
 
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By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Looking at an American folk quilt is like being engulfed in a starburst of swirling shapes and vibrant colors.

"Unfolding Stories: Culture and Tradition in American Quilts," an exhibition at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, features some of the best works of the rich tradition of quilting .

Jacqueline Atkins, the curator of the exhibition that runs from September 24 until December 1, and the author of several books on the subject, describes quilt making as "the true, great American folk art."

Many of the patterned quilts seem to anticipate Pop Art's fascination with geometric shapes, lines and repetition -- in some cases over half a century earlier.

Log Cabin, variation; Barn Raising, 1880-1890, by Anna Lay Park is an array of multicolored concentric cubes in a combination of different fabrics.

"They are really mind-boggling -- eye dazzlers comes to mind," Atkins said in an interview. "Looking at them if you didn't know when they were made you could say this is Pop Art."

But rather than compare the works to later developments of which the artists could have had no knowledge, Atkins likes to say that these women created their own distinct style and visual language.

"It was the women that started a whole art revolution on their own in fabric that only was found within the broader mainstream culture much later on," she explained.   Continued...

 
<p>A quilt titled "Log Cabin, variation; Barn Raising," 1880-1890, by Anna Lay Park that is displayed as part of the "Unfolding Stories: Culture and Tradition in American Quilts," exhibition at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, is shown in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Richard Walker/hANDOUT</p>