Monday, April 7, 2014

New Friends

By Marin Hanson
Curator of Exhibitions

Over the last two days I visited with three different quilt makers: Shizuko Kuroha, Reiko Washizawa, and Sanae Hattori. Three wonderful quilt makers, three very different styles.

Shizuko Kuroha is known for her work using vintage indigo fabrics. The IQSCM is fortunate to have two of her early pieces in its Ardis and Robert James Collection. Here she is in her studio showing us some new work.

Reiko Washizawa's work often is based on traditional Western quilt patterns like Hexagon Mosaic or Postage Stamp, to which she adds elements that give a distinct Japanese flavor. Here she is with me and with her husband, who has also taken up quilt making in his retirement. (Even though he has made many complex and beautiful quilts, she said she recently had to send him back to the lowest level class to "learn the basics"!)

Finally, Sanae Hattori has been working for over three decades in what she calls a "Japanesque" style. She is well known for her kimono-shaped quilts and recently has been working with a high-end digital textile printer to create a series of Buddha-themed quilts (being held up here by Nao Nomura, former IQSCM collections manager).

Many thanks to the quilt makers who met with me on my Tokyo trip, and to Mariko Akizuki, IQSCM International Advisory Board member, for arranging the meetings. This has been a truly educational and enjoyable experience!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Time for Supper with Eiko Okano

By Marin Hanson
Curator of Exhibitions

My trip to Tokyo is focused on learning about contemporary quilt makers in Japan and building relationships with them.

Yesterday, at the awards ceremony for the Japan Handicraft Instructors' Association's 12th Quilt Nihon (Japan) Competition, I got to meet several top quilt makers and view their quilts as well. There were some really fantastic quilts in the exhibition!

On our way to view the exhibition, held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, I also was lucky enough to get to walk through one of the most popular parks for viewing sakura, cherry blossoms, which are currently at their most spectacular.

Today, however, my highlight was getting to meet artist Eiko Okano, whose "Time for Supper" is currently on view in our "Expanding the Collection: Recent Acquisitions" exhibition. In 2012, Ms. Okano donated eight quilts to IQSCM and I was really looking forward to meeting her, seeing her studio, and expressing our gratitude for her generosity.

Here she is with her daughter, Naoko, giving us a private showing of some more of her quilts.

She extended her generosity even further by inviting me and Nao Nomura, former IQSCM collections manager and my host for this trip, for a traditional Japanese dinner. Oishii! Delicious! 

Many thanks to Okano-san and Naoko for an enjoyable evening.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Reconciliation Quilt Heads to NYC

If you are in New York City this summer, be sure to stop by the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library to see "Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War," which opens April 5. While the exhibition will make stops around the country during the next couple of years, for its New York debut, the show features a little something special from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum collection.

Reconciliation Quilt, Lucinda Ward Honstain, made in Brooklyn, NY,
dated 1867, 97 x 84.5 inches. IQSCM 2001.011.0001.

That's right -- our beloved Reconciliation Quilt will be on display this summer.

In honor of the show's grand opening, we asked IQSCM Curator of Collections Carolyn Ducey five questions about this quilt to explain why the Reconciliation Quilt is so important.

What makes this quilt so special?
It's special on a number of different levels. First, its historic importance recognizing the nation's need to reconcile its differences after the Civil War. And as a personal history of the maker's life. It's also important because of the quality of the workmanship and artistic detail... It's an extremely important representation of American folk art.

What's something that might surprise people about this quilt?
You often have this impression of a quiltmaker quietly working at home on her masterpiece with children playing around her feet -- a romanticized view of her life. However, research revealed Lucinda Ward Honstain had an unhappy marriage that brought a lot of unwanted negative attention to the maker, her husband and her family. There were a lot of skeletons in the closet.

How did it get it's name?
From the block that shows Jefferson Davis reconciling with his daughter. Again, that was a misconception -- that they were separated, because of their political views. In actuality she was a young woman attending school in New York while her father was in prison. She was probably too young to have that strong of political views. They did meet up in New York after he was released from prison, but it wasn't technically a reconciliation. We learned that by reading his letters as they've been published. The letters proved he and his daughter were close and communicated while they were separated.

What is the most compelling block in the quilt?
The block with the African American figure standing in front of a man on horseback stating "Master I am Free." It's particularly interesting, because slaves were freed in New York in the 1830s, so she really was making a statement about slavery and the state of the nation as a whole.

What's something you uncovered while you were studying the quilt itself?
If you look at the vertical column on the right side of the quilt, there are fabrics that are not used in any other part of the quilt. Though the sashing is the same, it looks like that last column was added later, which throws off the balance of the center block. Maybe she needed a wider quilt for her bed. We don't know.

"Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War" will be on display April 4 - Aug. 24.

For more information, visit:
Google Art Project
New-York Historical Society Museum & Library
Quilt of the Month - January 2014
Quilts in Common: Around the Globe and Across the Centuries
World Quilts: The American Story