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Quilts on the Mind

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts last month, the Museum invited Jennifer Swope, Assistant Curator in the David and Roberta Logie Department of Textiles and Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to help contextualize this ground-breaking exhibition by tracing the evolution of the art world’s appreciation of quilts as an art form. The Fleischman Lecture she delivered was titled “From Beds to Wall: Quilts as Art.” Swope allowed the quilt pairs to speak for themselves and was careful to mark the significance of the exhibition.

She remarked afterwards, “This is first time that a cultural historical museum has collaborated with an art museum to show quilts together as far as I know. It is also the first time many of the quilts from the Archives have been on display, and that’s exciting. People get to see them because of the collaboration.” Swope greatly values the fresh approach. “The exhibition allows cultural aspects of objects and aesthetic aspects of objects to co-exist on equal footing. It’s a tribute to the fabulous curators that work so well together.” She continued, “It is important to bring new audiences to the material. People who aren’t aware of the compelling nature of quilts find that they like the stories being told in the show. People who tend to approach quilts from a material culture perspective find that they are aesthetically powerful too.”

Reflecting on Quilt Programs
Last Tuesday in the MMFA galleries, curators Margaret Lynne Ausfeld and Ryan Blocker hosted the first of several Short Course programs on Sewn Together. This exhibition is a collaborative venture between the MMFA (Ausfeld) and the Alabama Department of Archives and History (Blocker), featuring “exemplary pairs” of quilts with similar themes, created at different times and places, by hand or by machine, by Alabamians. The quilts selected from the collection of the Archives reflect fine craftsmanship and a traditional nineteenth-century aesthetic while the Museum’s companion quilts are usually more modern, dynamic interpretations of the same patterns or themes. The two curators approached the program yesterday as they approached the exhibition, as an enthusiastic and erudite team.

Museum member Stan Neuenschwander remarked after the Short Course, “The beauty of two museums, one history, one fine arts, coming together is outstanding.” Neuenschwander’s wife, Becky, and Rachael Jones are among those who not only attended the recent exhibition-related programs but who are also practicing quilters. The two spoke of the community aspect of quilting, whether as an avenue for connecting to people in other parts of the country or becoming intimately acquainted with those they quilt with locally. After the gallery talk, Jones spoke of the language of quilt pattern names shared by fellow quilters, such as “Drunkard’s Path” and “Lemoyne Star.” Reflecting on our larger heritage as Alabamians, Jones noted the deep ties to our agrarian past and legacy as cotton growers, and docent Beverly Bennet noted that many of us have ancestors who quilted. Museum member Ellen Mertins pointed out that many of the later quilts in the show are by individual artists and are not meant to be utilitarian. Jones noted she has found inspiration in the exhibition to go outside the box in her work, and the quilters are excited about the state of quilting today.

The Future of Quilting
Exhibition sponsor Laura Luckett pointed out that quilts by Alabamians are also represented in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Swope remarked, “anyone outside of the state who is aware of Alabama quilts is aware of Gee’s Bend. The world is ready for a broader understanding of Alabama quilts, historical and contemporary, which Sewn Together delivers, bringing a broader cultural context. The region is such an artistically rich part of our country.” Additionally, as featured at the Museum last week by Sunshine Huff and Carole King, the Alabama Quilt Book Project stands to greatly expand the scholarship on Alabama quilts.

We do hope Swope will visit this rich part of our country again. She was effusive about the warmth of our Museum, the palpable nature of support for it in the community, the engaging manner in which the Archives addresses history, from pre-history to the present day, without glossing over anything, and the enthusiasm for their collections. She also really loved Jubilee Seafood and meeting exhibition sponsors Laura and Michael Luckett, whose daughter has published a book on quilting. In short, Swope said it was a special visit in honor of a very special exhibition. We look forward to further insights by our patrons as we continue to unravel the hidden and apparent meanings in these objects that were Sewn Together.

Alice Novak
Curator of Education

Fig 1.: (left to right) Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, MMFA curator; Jennifer Swope, Assistant Curator in the David and Roberta Logie Department of Textiles and Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Ryan Blocker, ADAH curator

Fig 2.: Ryan Blocker, curator at ADAH

 

February Makes Its Mark on the MMFA

It’s during the month of February that people tend to reflect on love and happiness. Here at the MMFA, we make it a point to celebrate those special times with you. Here is a list of the events that were created with the community in mind.

Short Course: Alabama Quilts 
Tuesdays: February 14, 21, and 28, at 12 noon

Throughout our state’s history, quilting has brought communities together. Now the MMFA and the Alabama Department of Archives and History have paired quilts from their collections representing similar themes, patterns, and techniques in works created across various times, places, classes, and racial lines. Join us for this short course to learn more about Alabama quilts and explore the exhibition Sewn Together.

Tales for Tots 
Wednesday, February 15, 10:30 to 11 A.M. and 11 to 11:30 A.M.

This FREE monthly program helps develop early learning about art fundamentals as participants engage with storybooks and simple craft activities related to art on display in the galleries.


Putting Together the Pieces: Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and Quilting Tradition,
co-hosted by Alabama State University
Thursday, February 16, 6 P.M.

Dr. Jacqueline Trimble, Chairperson of the Department of Languages and Literatures, and Dr. Catherine Gubernatis Dannen, Assistant Professor of English, Alabama State University, will lead a gallery talk in the exhibition Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts.


Film at the Museum: Basquiat
Thursday, February 23, 5:30 P.M.

Layered with symbols, text, graffiti-like expressions, and references to other creative minds, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings broke auction records for work by an African-American artist and remain highly collectible today. Basquiat, written and directed by painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, tells the story of the artist’s short, tragic life, and his meteoric success.

Family Art Affair and Jazz Jams 
Sunday, February 26, 2 P.M.

View the collaborative exhibition Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts displaying traditional handmade quilts from the collections of both the MMFA and the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Enjoy the studio program replicating quilting styles and themes using textiles and colorful papers to make your own pattern designs to take home! As always, the jazz will be found in the Museum’s Orientation gallery!

Celebrate 200 Years of Quilts in Alabama!

You may have heard that the state of Alabama will be celebrating the bicentennial of statehood for the next three years. Beginning this month and extending through December of 2019, state institutions will feature projects that focus on Alabama’s rich social and cultural heritage. The MMFA’s first exhibition honoring the bicentennial opens this month, and the project reflects a cooperative spirit, ingenuity, and respect for our material culture that is surely worth commemorating.

Blog.Quilts2Sewn Together: Two Hundred Years of Alabama Quilts, now on view at the MMFA until April 16, had its inception at an MMFA staff ‘”pre-opening” visit to the newly completed Alabama Voices installation at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. After our introductory tour, Archives curator Ryan Blocker (pictured to the right) took us to see some special treasures in her care—storage cabinets with rolls of amazing textiles. These examples of linens, costumes, and clothing, some of them centuries old, were part of the Archives’ collections that began back in 1901; it’s the oldest state archives in the United States.

It was natural that Ryan and I began looking at and talking about Alabama quilts. The MMFA has a collection of 82 quilts primarily made in West Alabama from the decades of the 1980s and 1990s. These quilts are a mixture of examples made for practical use in the home and those made consciously as art objects for display.   Some of those in the Archives’ storeroom were created over 150 years ago; they reflect the origins of the quilt as a both a necessary utilitarian object and one that routinely demonstrated the needlecraft and creativity of the maker. The more we looked and talked, the more we discovered fascinating parallels in these quilts that were made in our state from its earliest days until the end of the twentieth century. We were excited to discover patterns, quilting techniques, themes, and methods of construction that reflected the continuity in both our extraordinary collections.

Blog.Quilts1We joined forces to select and interpret 14 exemplary pairs of quilts, composed of one example from each collection, which are now on display on the walls of the MMFA. Many of the older examples from the Archives’ collections have never been formally exhibited. Historic textiles are, by their nature, very fragile objects, and thus are rarely hung on walls or seen under exhibition lighting. We are honored that the Archives chose to share these distinctive and historically significant quilts with us in order to make them accessible to the public.

The two staffs (pictured to the right) joined forces to tell the story of the exhibition through not only text panels but also a printed brochure and an interactive website dedicated to Alabama and its quilt history. The website was largely the creation of Archive staff members Raven Christopher and Georgia Ann Hudson, with timely and creative contributions from our own curatorial digital assets manager, Sarah Graves. The site, sewntogetheralabama.org, will give this collaboration a “second life” on the internet, long past the period of the physical exhibition. It is accessible to quilt lovers the world over, as well as to local collectors and families who treasure their family heirlooms. Among the valuable resources you’ll find on the website are two videos that explain how best to care for your quilts and how to safely store them. It also contains photographs of the quilts paired with their comparative texts explaining the continuity of the quilting tradition in our state and “sneak peeks” at quilts that were too fragile for display in the galleries.

Blog.Quilts3I hope that you will take time before April 16 to come to the Museum to see these extraordinary historic textiles. It may be your only opportunity to see them before they return to their safe storage for future generations. We appreciate all of the staff members of each institution who participated in making the larger project a reality. We are very grateful for the financial support of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, as well as the sponsorship of our long-time patrons and supporters, Laura and Michael Luckett. And be sure to make a virtual visit through the website sewntogetheralabama.org to learn even more about the art of quilt making in Alabama, a tradition two hundred years in the making.

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator

Fig 1.: Ryan Blocker, curator at ADAH

Fig 2.: (left to right) Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, MMFA curator; Sarah Graves, MMFA digital asset manager; Ryan Blocker, ADAH curator; Georgia Ann Hudson, ADAH PR; and Raven Christopher, ADAH archaeology curator

Fig 3.: (left to right) Staff from ADAH, Georgia Ann Hudson, Ryan Blocker, and Raven Christopher

Meet the MMFA’s Artist in Action Betty Plaster

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts prides itself on the regional artists we showcase in the Museum Store. Quarterly one of those artists is selected to demonstrate their craft for the public during Artist in Action in conjunction with DiVine Lunch. On Thursday, January 19, Betty Plaster will join us as Artist in Action from 12 noon to 2 P.M. in the Store to demonstrate how she creates works of art with beautifully pressed flowers.

We have a wide range of pieces from Betty that include matted 11 x 14 pieces for $40 to large-scale framed works priced at $300. Plaster has been working with flowers for many years but did not start selling her pieces professionally until April 2016. Her business The Rose Walk combines her favorite flower with the manner in which she procures her medium. Plaster said, “Every time I walk outside I am scouting new flowers and leaves to press,” making her keenly observant of her environment.BETTY PLASTER 3 for blog

When asked what are her favorite flowers to press? The artist unequivocally stated it was the rose. Plaster remarked, “My favorite flower to press are roses and especially individual rose petals. One rose bush will produce hundreds of different shades of color.” The geometric organization of her pieces contrasts the randomness of nature in a way that highlights the variance in each petal or pressed flower. Plaster is also acutely aware of the temporal nature of her pieces. She stated, “Each piece I create can never be created again since each flower or petal is unique.” This brings an added dimension to her pieces because you know it is entirely one of a kind. She said the newness of each leaf or petal and the shape it takes after it is pressed makes her most recently finished piece her favorite; she is unable to give top honor to any single work.

When asked what she thought would be the best advice to give people attempting to press and mat flowers themselves Plaster offered, “Always press more flowers than you think you will need for a picture. Some flowers will mold during the pressing process especially if they are picked during days with high humidity.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlease join us on Thursday, January 19 to meet Betty Plaster, ask her any questions you may have about pressing your own flowers, and purchase her beautiful work. If you would like to join us for DiVine Lunch, reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 334.240.4339. Please click here to view the menu.

Blake Rosen
Special Events Coordinator

A New Year Brings Excitement to the MMFA

With a new year comes more opportunities for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. As we enter into 2017, we anticipate that the opening of our winter exhibitions, a free movie screening, and various other events will generate enthusiasm in the River Region.

Take a look at the list of happenings for the month of January.

Film at the Museum: Midnight in Paris
Thursday, January 5, 5:30 P.M.

midnight-in-paris-for-blog

We have heard from film lovers that you would like to see the movie Midnight in Paris. Join us for Woody Allen’s 2011 comedy in which an American writer and tourist in Paris suddenly finds himself in the 1920s–interacting with the likes of Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Josephine Baker, the Fitzgeralds, and many other creative luminaries.

First Sundays
Sunday, January 8, 1 P.M.

 

Art Ed Central
Thursday, January 12, 4:30 P.M.

ED.teacher.12callout

Enjoy a gallery talk in a new exhibition at the Museum and experience related lessons to use in your classrooms at this FREE teacher workshop.

DiVine Lunch
Thursday, January 19, 11 A.M.


 

Family Art Affair and Jazz Jams
Sunday, January 22, 2 P.M.

Web.Moonstruck.2016The lunar-inspired exhibition Moonstruck: Works on Paper from the MMFA Collection is sure to inspire you in the studio, where the whole family is welcome to create vivid nighttime scenes using various printmaking techniques.

 

 

Celebrating the Opening of  Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts and Nature, Tradition & Innovation: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection
Thursday, January 26, 5:30 P.M.

 

 

Fleischman Lecture: From Bed to Walls: Quilts as Art
Thursday, January 26, 7 P.M.

Web.Quilt_250x180.2016

Following the opening of Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts, Jennifer Swope, Assistant Curator, David and Roberta Logie Department of Textile and Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will explore the work of Alabama and other American quilters in the context of their transformation from bed covers to art.

 

 

 

 

Credit Information:
Figure 1: Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889–1975), Huck Finn, from the Missouri State Capitol Mural Series, 1936, lithograph on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Luther Hill in memory of William Convington, 1969.13

Figure 2: Mallory and Welch Families, Mount Ida Wedding Quilt, 1851, cotton, Lent by the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama, ADAH, 86.1457.1

A Year in Review

At the end of 2016, we at the MMFA are looking back at fond memories around the museum and with our members. Below is a throwback to the top 10 blog posts of 2016, listed by date, just click the titles to read more.

Enjoy, and here’s to a happy new year in 2017!

1. Reflections on the 60th Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

An Expressive EveningIn partnership with the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, the MMFA welcomed students from Alabama State University, Auburn University at Montgomery, Huntingdon College, and Tuskegee University who presented Honoring the Montgomery Bus Boycott: An Evening of Artistic Celebration in the…

2. Adventures in Collecting American Art— “Albano, Italy” (ca. 1874-1876)

The MMFA’s exhibition Adventures in Collecting Art was an assemblage of twenty-seven works, including twelve Charles and Babette Wampold had previously gifted the Museum’s collection over a period of twenty-four years…

3. Art Auction 2016 

Art Auction 2016, a biennial fundraising event, proved to be one of the most memorable in both a SMART and historical sense for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. For the first time ever…

4. A Shared Legacy—Folk Art in America

SL.CatCoverBLOGSome of the most distinctive and widely collected American art today is admired for the simple fact that it is simple.  Compared with the rarified, highly refined arts and architecture of Western Europe, and the ancient productions of many other continents, centuries, and civilizations, American 19thcentury folk art generally looks, well, plain.  And that’s exactly what has made everyday people and art collectors since the early 20th century love it…

5. The Road to Crystal Bridges

If you have an interest in American art and history, you have likely heard of the greatest art museum and collection built in the U.S. in recent memory.  Located in the small Arkansas town of Bentonville…

6. The 27th Annual Flimp Festival

A spell of great weather accompanied by a strong camaraderie between the MMFA and Booker T. Washington Magnet High School contributed to the 2016 Flimp Festival making a lasting impression on…

7. Summer Exhibitions Opening Reception 2016

Blog.Harshman.SummerOpening2016Summertime is always a welcome season at the Museum—the galleries offer a cool respite from the heat and our staff takes a mini-break from the nonstop activities of the fall and spring. Nevertheless, there’s plenty to see and do at the MMFA…

8. Women Making Art: A Panel Discussion

With creativity and innovation women artists have been involved in art making throughout the centuries. Yet, despite their efforts, traditional art history narratives often misrepresent, under-represent, and marginalize…

9. The MMFA Pays Tribute to the Military

Blog.MilitaryOpenHouse3As someone who has several loved ones and friends in the military, I know it can be difficult to pack up, move your family to a different city, and start over. That’s why we, at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, do our part each year to let all current and former military members and their immediate families know they are appreciated…

 

10. Meet Federico Uribe!

blog-uribe7-2016A lively giraffe made of colored pencils, a two-story tree made of khaki pants, a dazzling pond made of CDs – all of this and more can be found in an immersive and dreamlike exhibit created by Federico Uribe. Uribe transforms ordinary, everyday objects into extraordinary sculptures…

 

 

 

 

 

Images above:

Fig1: From Honoring the Montgomery Bus Boycott: An Evening of Artistic Celebration

Fig2: From A Shared Legacy

Fig3: From Summer Exhibitions Opening and Women Making Art

Fig4: From The MMFA Pays Tribute to the Military

Fig5: From Meet Federico Uribe!

 

DIY Holiday Tree Sculpture!

fb-xmastreediy-2016

Looking for a craft project for your young ones this holiday season?

Follow these step by step directions to make your own holiday tree sculpture. If you feel inspired, please sign up for our Holidays in the Studio, where we will instruct you in making more seasonal art projects!

Supply Needs:

Blog.Holiday Craft Step 1

various shades of green felt, cut into simple leaf shapes
dowel rod glued to the wooden scraps to make a stand
paper cone cup
various sequins
small yellow foam triangles
hot glue gun and appropriate glue stick;
tacky glue.
If you do not have dowel rods or wooden scraps, the tree can be made even simpler using just the cone cup with no stand!

Blog.Holiday Craft Step 2

 

Step 1.

Place a large glob of hot glue on top of the dowel rod stand and quickly push the paper cup into place.

 

Blog.Holiday Craft Step 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2.

Blog.Holiday Craft Step 4

Begin the first layer of felt towards the bottom of the cup.

Add hot glue to the cup before pressing on each felt piece, overlapping slightly so that none of the bottom of the cup shows.

 

 

 

Blog.Holiday Craft Step 6

Step 3.

Add the second layer of felt pieces in the same manner, working from the top point of the cup, overlapping down onto the already placed bottom layer of felt.

 

 

Blog.Holiday Craft Step 7

 

Step 4.

Add dabs of tacky glue wherever desired on your tree; then press on the sequins of your choice as decoration.

 

 

 

Step 5.

Call Out Project Tree

Use tacky glue to glue the triangle pieces together to resemble a star, then glue into place on the tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project variations: Use a pre-made star if desired! If you would rather the tree be natural with no ornament decoration, glue on small white craft pom poms as snow!  Please be sure to join us for Holidays in the Studio for more crafting fun.

Laura Bocquin

 

The MMFA Celebrates the Holiday Season

christmas-treeAs we at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts reflect on 2016, we cannot let the year end without thanking you for your support. To show our appreciation throughout the month of December, the Museum is hosting events and opening exhibitions to get you into the holiday spirit.

Check out the happenings this month.

Tales for Tots
Wednesday, December 14, 10:30 and 11 A.M.

Tales for Tots focuses on a different work of art in the Museum’s galleries. This FREE monthly program engages preschoolers through storybooks and simple craft activities related to the artwork in focus.

Holidays in the Studios (ages 6 and older)
Wednesday, December 28 and Thursday, December 29, 10:30 A.M.

Enjoy the holiday season by making festive creations through drawing, printmaking, and mixed-media collaging! Each class features a new project, including holiday cards and winter scenes.

Federico Uribe: TransformartWebsite.Uribe.Fox
Now through January 8, 2017 

Colombian-born, Miami-based artist Federico Uribe creates magical creatures and playful installations from everyday objects.

Boydell Shakespeare Gallery Engravings
Now through January 8, 2017

Interest in the writings of William Shakespeare, particularly his plays, flourished in the 1770s and 1780s. Literary critics, theatrical performers, and playwrights all agreed that he was the finest dramatist in the history of the English language. These engravings focus on scenes from plays by the Bard of Avon, and the immortal characters who come to life in Shakespeare’s writings.

Look Here, Look Now: Fashion, Costume, and Style in Art Web.Fashion.2016
Now through January 29, 2017

Visual artists have consistently taken cues from society to create portraits, not just of their contemporaries, but also of the times themselves. One of the key social indicators that artists include in their works is clothing.

Moonstruck: Works on Paper from the MMFA Collection
Now through January 8, 2017

Perhaps no phenomenon of nature depicted in art carries more romantic resonance than images of the moon. Artists throughout history have included it, and its gentle light, to convey a sense of romance in their work.

 

 

Credit Information:
Figure 2: Federico Uribe (American, born Colombia 1962), Fox, 2015, mixed media, Lent by the artist

Figure 3: Kenneth Hayes Miller, Leaving the Shop (aka Woman with Packages), 1934, etching on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 1982.6.1

How Will You Give? #GivingTuesday 11.29.16

We have a day for gBlog.Giving.1iving thanks. We have two for getting deals (Black Friday and Cyber Monday), now we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 28, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company, or your organization to give a little bit more—share, inspire, make a difference.

Of course if you need help figuring out where you can donate your time or money, we want you to consider the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. When you make a gift to the MMFA on #GivingTuesday, your donation will be matched by philanthropists Corinna and Barry Wilson.

Your gift will directly impact the Museum’s mission. For example, your money will provide educational programs both here at the Museum and in underserved areas of the community like the Alabama Department of Youth Services’ Mt. Meigs Campus, and Wares Ferry Elementary School. Your gifts will also be used to present exciting special exhibitions like Transformart. Additionally, private funds support the care of our permanent collections, helping us leave a legacy for to future residence of the River Region.

Most importantly, your donations enable the MMFA to remain a free attraction to Montgomery area residents and visitors from around the U.S. and the world, allowing all families to enjoy new cultural experiences regardless of income.

Are you looking to volunteer in order to serve or make a difference? Check out these volunteer opportunities at the Museum.Ants.1

This season, keep the holiday spirit and the MMFA in your heART.

Jen Eitzmann
Development Officer

Click Here to Make a Donation to the MMFA

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