Today’s culture makes it easy for American women to engage in the world around them, thanks to advances in both women’s rights and technology. But between 1820 and 1920, many women chose to respond to current events and trends creatively, through one of their prescribed activities: needlework. Quilts allowed women to engage in the world while conforming to their era’s gender roles, which restricted middle-class women to the private, domestic sphere. This exhibition will present quilts that reflect their makers’ interest in their world.
What inspired quilt makers? Often, the motivation was purely aesthetic. At other times, a quilter felt compelled to respond to events or trends in the world around her. Popular culture fads and exciting events made their way into quilts, sometimes incorporating commercially made textiles capitalizing on the topic. War and politics—despite women’s exclusion from suffrage—were often an impetus. Developments in textile technology offered greatly expanded fabric and color choices. Newly imported or hybridized plants inspired women not only in their gardens but in their bedspreads. Even other textiles provided designs to be translated into quilts or patterns.
What event person or idea from your lifetime would you want future generations to remember? Share a piece of your mind and contribute to our "Virtual Quilt."