Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts
January 28 through April 16, 2017
The handmade quilt is a benchmark of traditional American culture and creativity—quilts were both treasured family heirlooms as well as everyday staples in the homes of most Alabamians since settlement. Sewn Together presents examples of Alabama-made quilts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, drawn from the extraordinary collections of the MMFA and the Alabama Department of Archives and History. The quilts in this exhibition are presented as “exemplary pairs” demonstrating and illustrating comparisons of the varied techniques, themes, and traditional patterns as seen in two hundred years of Alabama quilt making.
The quilting tradition in the state is a vibrant one that epitomizes the creative impulses and inspirations in both white and black communities; there are distinctive characteristics within each, as well as elements that represent the continuation of shared traditions passed down within families and localities. These quilts share common traditions and traits—patterns such as the Lone Star, the simple block, and strip quilts—as well as piecing, applique, and hand stitching. The craftsmanship, sophisticated principles of color theory and design that characterize twentieth-century Alabama quilts are rooted in the production of the state’s nineteenth-century quilters.
Mallory and Welch Families, Mt. Ida Wedding Quilt, 1851, Alabama Department of Archives and History