You think you know art when you see it, but this episode of Why Quilts Matter may make you think again. Turns out the quilt is the perfect test case for a dozen theories about what makes art, well.... art. Take the art vs. craft debate: As a domestic object made by women for a practical purpose the quilt falls squarely into the 'craft' category, and a humble one, at that. But do some quilts become 'art' when exhibited, like paintings, on a museum wall? Which ones? The plot thickens when we consider the claims of 'art quilts' made solely for exhibition. Are they art-not craft--just because their makers say they are, and how do we know, anyway? Who knew that it takes a soft cover to define a tough concept? Join host Shelly Zegart and crew as she explores "what is art?"
In 2002 the art world was rocked to its foundations by a group of unusual, abstract quilts made by African American women from an obscure hamlet in southern Alabama. People lined up around the block to see them and the critic from the New York Times gushed as, for the first time, the quilt became the subject of a museum blockbuster. Join us as we trace the journey of the quilts of Gees Bend from the clotheslines of the South to the exhibition walls of the country's greatest museums. We'll explore the aesthetic and social appeal of these quilts-and quilters-as well as the controversies they engendered, and analyze their unique place in quilt history.
It's now been nearly a century since quilts were first collected and exhibited and they've come a long way, baby. In this episode of Why Quilts Matter, we trace their slow incursion into museum collections, watching as they finally make the leap from tester bed to gallery wall. The episode charts institutional attitudes toward quilts as objects, rationales for their selection, and the public response to their exhibition (hint: it's very good). To make it all clear, we trace the path of one exemplary quilt from maker to museum. Finally, we explore the lure of quilts for a private collector...who's got to have them, and why.
You can look long and hard and you won't find an object more central to the history of women than the quilt. In this episode we look at the quilt's historical and current roles as (among others) an avenue of personal expression, a sly medium of social and political opinion, and a building block of financial security. Unique among objects, quilts are both lowly "women's work" and great art. They are something made from nothing; they are both nurturing and inspiring. They can communicate both intimate memories and great societal truths, and they have throughout history. Here curators, quilt makers, and scholars discuss the surprising number of ways in which the quilt has been and continues to be, woven into the histories and psyches of our mothers, our sisters, ourselves.
"Quilt making," as one quilt maker says, "is the greatest mass movement nobody ever heard of." The population of the American quilt world outnumbers those of many small countries, and yet most outsiders remain unaware of its size, diversity, and economic clout. In this episode Why Quilts Matter goes inside this unseen world, meeting its participants, attending its events, analyzing its businesses, periodicals, support services, and technological advancements. Our experts also provide a bird's eye view of the politics, as various festivals, artists and quilters struggle for the heart and soul of Quilt Nation.
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