Artist unidentified. Amish, United States. Sunshine and Shadow Quilt, 1920s (detail). Silks and wools, 83 × 75 ½ inches. American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of Karen and Werner Gundersheimer, 2018.2.6. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.
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Description

Wall Power! Spectacular Quilts from the American Folk Art Collection.
As an art form, quilts have deep roots in American life and experience. For more than three centuries, artists, primarily women, have created highly individualized expressions in this medium that are both yielding and unforgiving, challenging the maker to test the limits imposed by cutting and piecing bits of fabric. Each work on view is a graphically striking example that embodies a sense of “wall power,” packing a tough visual punch and defying the deceptive softness of its nature.

The very fine selection of quilts on view in this show is from the distinctive collection of the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. They range across time and place from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century, from Alabama to Pennsylvania. The four sections of the exhibition highlight early twentieth-century quilts from a period of craft revival, designs developed by Amish communities, examples by African American makers, and traditional nineteenth-century patterns that formed a foundation for generations of quiltmakers to come. The exhibition will be on view from June 18, 2021–September 21, 2021.

The exhibition begins with quilts that reflect the popularity of traditional American handicrafts. Quilters moved away from the ornate designs of the Victorian era, which featured sumptuous velvets and silks, and embraced the use of cotton fabrics, clean lines, and schematic patterns. Amish communities have also produced some of the most beloved American quilt patterns and their bold blues, pinks, and purples belie common conceptions of the plainness of Amish visual culture.

The African American quilts in the exhibition are infused with stunning dynamism. Although they may draw on traditional Euro-American patterns, their asymmetry, bold colors, and outsized designs may also be linked to earlier African textile practices. “Wall Power!” closes with a selection of traditional patterns dating from the mid to late 1800s that illustrate the techniques of piecing and appliqué, which formed a foundation for generations of quiltmakers to come.

This exhibition was organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York, and supported in part by the Bresler Foundation, the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions, and the Council for Traditional Folk Art.

Wall Power! was originally curated for installation at the American Folk Art Museum, August 6–September 1, 2019, by Stacy C. Hollander. Tour coordinated by Emelie Gevalt, Curator of Folk Art, the American Folk Art Museum.

At the Hudson River Museum, the exhibition is generously sponsored by The Coby Foundation.

#HRMWallPower

Ellanora Kolb, Anna McDonough, and Pauline Ringler. Bicentennial Quilt (detail), 1976. Cloth. 96 1/2 × 78 1/2 inches. Gift of The Woman’s Institute of Yonkers, 2005 (2005.02.03).

Collection Spotlight: Storied Quilts from the Hudson River Museum
The HRM will display five important quilts from its own collection, on view from June 18-September 26, 2021, as well as premiere additional selections online. The quilts highlight regional pride and collaboration:  Three nineteenth-century examples include a Pieced Sampler Quilt by New York tailor Adolph Schermer, an elaborate silk and velvet Crazy Quilt by couple Pinkus and Ernestine Turk, and a Chimney Signature Quilt featuring the names of forty-two residents of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Also on view for the first time in decades will be a Commemorative Quilt made in 1976 by Ellanora Kolb, Anna McDonough, and Pauline Ringler to present to the Woman’s Institute of Yonkers in honor of the United States Bicentennial. Among the local City sites depicted are historic Glenview, the Museum’s Gilded Age home, the 17th-century Philipse Manor Hall, and the historic St. John’s Church in downtown Yonkers, designed in 1872.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by The Coby Foundation.