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Pattern and Paradox: The Quilts of Amish Women

March 28 - August 26

Free

Explore the creative practice of Amish quilters in the United States. Pattern and Paradox: The Quilts of Amish Women looks beyond quilting as a utilitarian practice. It reveals historical quilting among the Amish as an aesthetic endeavor that walked a line between cultural and individual expression. The quilts paradoxically twin the plain with the spectacular, tradition with innovation, and a dismissal of personal pride with objects often seen as extraordinary artworks.

The quilts in Pattern and Paradox were all made between 1880 and 1950 in communities united by faith, values of conformity and humility, and a rejection of “worldly” society. No specific guidelines governed quilt patterns or colors, so Amish women explored an uncharted territory, pushing cultural limitations by innovating within a community that values adherence to rules. Styles, patterns, and color preferences eventually varied and distinguished the various settlements, but it was the local quilters who drove and set the standards.

Pattern and Paradox celebrates the quilts, the women who made them, and considers their unique role in American art today, roughly a century after the quilts in this collection were made.

The exhibition celebrates a major gift of Amish quilts to the museum by Faith and Stephen Brown. They began collecting quilts in 1977, four years after encountering Amish quilts for the first time at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery. The 50 quilts featured in Pattern and Paradox include 39 from the museum’s collection and 11 promised gifts. Around 100 additional quilts from the Browns’ exemplary collection are promised to the museum as a bequest.

Details

Start:
March 28
End:
August 26
Cost:
Free
Event Category:
Website:
https://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/pattern-and-paradox

Organizer

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Phone:
202-633-8523
Email:
americanartpressoffice@si.edu
View Organizer Website

Other

Curators
Leslie Umberger
Artwork Medium
Mixed Media

Venue

Smithsonian American Art Museum
750 9th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001 United States
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Phone:
(202) 633-7970
View Venue Website