A world-class museum.
An exhibit of quilts that should forever silence any question about whether the work of “loving hands at home” can and should be viewed as art.
I spent the last few days in Boston, Massachusetts, with my husband and two friends. I could regale you for hours with stories of the fun we had but what I really want to do is show you pictures of the current exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
The exhibit is titled “Quilts and Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection” and it will be at the museum through July 27, 2014. If you are able, do go to the show—it’s amazing and will give you lots to think about, regarding quilt making and the definitions of art and craft!
The 60 quilts in the exhibit are from the collection of Gerald Roy and the late Paul Pilgrim. Pilgrim and Roy, trained artists and interior designers, began collecting quilts for their aesthetic value in the 1960s and they amassed glorious examples.
Pilgrim and Roy recognized how women had been using colors and shapes in the making of quilt designs that were every bit as innovative and exciting as the paintings of recognized artists, such as Josef Albers, and other Op Artists and Abstract Expressionists.
The show is organized around different aspects of color theory. It’s all very interesting and informative but, really, I found it difficult to get into reading the explanations.
I just wanted to feast my eyes on the banquet of colors and shapes and patterns. I wanted to get close to every quilt and try to imagine making stitches that tiny. I wanted to think about the women, often Amish or Mennonite, who lived what we think of as such austere lives and yet created such opulent and rich beauties.
This quilt was probably my favorite of all and it was the catalyst that brought Pilgrim and Roy to re-think their notions about quilt making.
Many of the quilts are displayed against a black wall, which makes them seem to glow and vibrate with inner light and energy. (Click on any photo in this post to really check out the details!)
The craftsmanship of these quilts is superb. Of course, they are all quilted by hand and the quilted designs combine with the colors and shapes of the fabric to create a whole that is far more than the sum of the parts.
But, really, why am I still yammering on? Just look!
Wonderful pictures, wonderful quilts! Thanks for sharing them with us.
And after spending a few more minutes, let me just add, “WOW!”
Thanks! I wish you could see them in person–so much more impressive! And they are in incredible condition–most were made in the late 1800s and look terrific!
I can imagine how these quilts would glow and vibrate against a black wall…stunning!
They had long written explanations about the use of complementary colors and how that causes the eye to see vibrations. Interesting but boring–I just wanted to let my eyes vibrate!
While I agree with Pilgrim and Roy that these are art, I think they still have something to do with keeping warm — which is a strength not a weakness. How powerful is it to wear, to use, to embody art like this?!
I do agree with you–the combination of utility and beauty, art with a purpose, really speaks to me. These quilts were clearly kept for special, though–their makers must’ve cherished them. Most were made in the late 1800s and they looked brand new.
These are gorgeous. I have been to several quilt shows and I always come away amazed and inspired to be creative 🙂
I was definitely inspired! I came back to my own quilt with renewed enthusiasm!
Such a treat to see all these quilts. Thank you. They are exquisite and they warm the soul, even if they are not meant for other warming purposes! I also wonder how such beauty comes from austerity; thinking here about gorgeous tapestries and carpets woven in austere conditions.
It makes me happy to know that women living in rough circumstances could still find such beauty within themselves and find a way to bring it to life.
Stunning! Joyful and all those creative hands that have made wonderful works of art that touch and warm our souls. Thank you!
I wish you could see them yourself (just like I wish I could see the Gaultier show myself!)
Thanks for giving us a chance to visit this exhibition with you. It’s the only way your UK readers will get the opportunity to see these wonderful quilts.
Yes, and that’s sad, because they are so impressive in person–so big, and colorful, and full of the tiniest stitches imaginable!
Speaking s someone who has ‘had a go’ at quilt making – and made three with greater and lesser degrees of success – I really appreciate the planning, the hours of stitching [and I used a machine!] the ‘big picture’ colour ability and the patience required in this art form. I am a huge fan [despite being a mixed media artist] of beautiful things with practical uses and quilting is exactly that! If I had a quilt that hung on a wall I would most likely take it down when I got cold and wrap myself in it 🙂
Thank you for sharing these photos, they are quite stunning and I am glad you had a great time!!
I do think that a person can appreciate the quilts even more if she has tried quilting herself! On all levels–the color choices, the piecing, and the unbelievable quality of the hand quilting–I compare my skills with these makers, and come up lacking! But I’m inspired!
The quilts are awesome. I love colors and cloth patterns to create well-designed quilts using traditional patterns. And, the quote is wonderful. There are definitely art. .
It makes me happy to have people viewing what was once seen as “mere” women’s work and seeing it exalted as the art it really is.
Wow this looks like a stunning exhibition packed with inspiration. I bet you had an amazing time! x
We did have a great time! Boston is a wonderful city–have you ever had the chance to go?
I have enjoyed looking at all the different designs. Thanks for sharing!
Glad you visited, Liz!
Amazing. (But yours are just as stunning as these.)
Well, that is a very kind thing for you to say! Modern quilters have learned a lot from earlier makers. Most of these quilts were made in the 1800s by women in a religious sect that values simplicity and humility. And, yet, they taught us so much about beauty and color!
Beautiful art. And the math & science that goes into each creation is amazing. My mother introduced me to appreciate quilting when we visited Amish country in Lancaster County PA, about an hour from where I grew up in suburban Phila. She’d have loved this exhibit. Will definitely have to go see it with her in mind.
Most of the quilts in this exhibit were, in fact, made by Amish and Mennonite women–you could probably see that at a glance. Do go see the show! It’s so much better in person!
Thank you so much for sharing, there are some fantastic patterns here. they are most definitely an art form.
The intricacy of some of the patterns is astounding. And to think that all the work was done by hand, by natural or candle light . . . amazing!
These quilts are STUNNING! And the shot of the gallery just made me cry out “WOW”. I love them displayed on the black walls and yes they absolutely glow. Your photographs really convey the intricate stitches and the vibrant colours.
My favourite one is the simple, two colour quilt, the pink and grey one. I love hand quilting where each stitch carries heart and soul. I just have always struggled with it and machine quilted mine.
I hang my head in shame, but on the other hand, I do very intricate applique work, which other people seem not to have the patience for. Maybe it will come in time…..
I think you had a great time in Boston! Thank you for sharing.
The quilt that looks pink and gray was actually pink and a sort of grass green–my camera really let me down. It’s even prettier in person! I have done exclusively hand quilting, mostly because I am so inept at using a sewing machine but, also, as you say, it just seems special to me. But I have never tried applique at all! I am more drawn to geometric patterns than organic but applique also intimidates me! Are you ever going to post on your blog about your quilting?!
These look amazing, I especially like the pink and grey one. Besides collecting, were Pilgrim and Roy quilters too?
The quilt you mention was really pink and a pretty grass green–my camera didn’t get it right at all! Pilgrim and Roy, as I understand it, started out as interior designers and then got very involved in the quilt world. They did learn to make quilts and also designed a quilt museum and did a lot of lecturing and teaching. I’m not sure where they got their money–those quilts didn’t come cheap!
I love the quote “this has nothing to do with staying warm”! There are so many funky designs here – the one with the colourful circles is my favourite! xx
I kept trying to pick a favorite but so many of them appealed to me! I can’t believe what great shape they were in–most were made in the 1800s!
I’m so glad you got to see this exhibit! I love how you patch your pictures together into a very quilt-like mosaic. Like you, I didn’t want to read the placards: I just wanted to look.
Maybe if you go back, you’ll read the placards and learn a lot. Or maybe you’ll just notice new details about the amazing quilts themselves!
Or maybe both!
Oh my… These quilts are wonderful!! My favorite.. The fans!! Wow, magnificent !!!
Thank you for sharing!!!!
I just wish everyone cold see it in person–the photos can’t prepare you for the real thing. Thanks for stopping by!
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