I know I moved to Austin and all, but that doesn't mean I've stopped caring about happenings in New York, I just don't report on them as much – there are gobs of stellar New York-based bloggers, afterall. Well, this exhibit is one I felt deserved a little attention because it's not one you might not stop into on your usual museum rounds. The American Folk Art Museum is sponsoring a satellite exhibit, Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts, featuring 651 red and white quilts, on display at the Park Avenue Armory. Running from March 25 -30, the exhibit is short-lived, but free and open to the public. I'm sad I'm missing this one. Quilting has been catapulted from a crafty "women's work" kind of reputation to treatment as a fine art. The designs in this exhibition, assisted by the outstanding presentation, proves that quilting is, indeed, high art.
Photo courtesy American Folk Art Museum
Aside from the fact that this is the largest exhibition of quilts ever presented in New York City, the most interesting part is that the collection belongs to (and is on loan from) a single person. Joanna S. Rose actually owns more than 1,300 quilts amassed since the 1950s, but selected only the red and white ones for the show. The limited color palette surely allows for a much more in-depth exploration of the varieties and complexities of the textile designs.
Designed by Thinc Design, the exhibit consists of six 30-foot high cylinders, created from quilts, that surround a 50-foot quilt spiral. The curator requested that the quilts not be displayed by pattern, time period or geographic region, but rather in a manner that is visually exciting. I'v been to quilt exhibits before, and they always look the same: quilts hung on walls. This, however, looks phenomenal.
In an interview with the NY Times, Ms. Rose, who was heavily involved in the curation of the show, said she found inspiration in a line from Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" when searching for an exhibition title:
Age cannot wither her, not custom stale
Her infinite variety…
As stated in the Times, the quilts have retained their "infinite variety" and have not turned "stale" with age.
For Ms. Rose, this show is a dream come true, and a birthday gift from her husband, both for her and for New York.
Exhibit images courtesy Thinc Design
My mom, who happens to be taking a quilting class right now (go mom!) went to the show and said it was spectacular, therefore, you should go see it. Still not convinced? Check out this video by Mary Kay Davis shpwing photos by the American Folk Art Museum. It's set to Chopin's Three Nocturnes, Op. 9, No. 3 in B Major (aka it's lovely), but if you're at the office and classical music streaming out of your computer will blow your cover, turn down the volume.
The Park Avenue Armory is located at 643 Park Avenue, between 66th and 67th streets). Remember: free and open to the public through Wednesday (tomorrow)! The museum is open until 7pm on Tuesdays, and 5pm on Wednesdays.