From major museums to small galleries, exhibitions featuring quilts are rising in popularity. Quilts are often formed out of discarded fabrics that were once cherished by their owners. Memories live in the materials that make up a quilt, which gives the medium a sentimental, nostalgic quality. Quilts also give off a sense of renewal – unusable pieces of cloth turn into something functional and appealing. The above quilt was made by artist Luke Haynes and is currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum. Haynes uses a traditional art form to explore current American iconography. His quilts evoke the old in order to explore the new.
Some artists, like Faith Ringgold, are quilting with a reverence for the past. Through quilts, Ringgold connects to her great-great-great-grandmother, who was a quilter and slave in the American South. Ringgold is known for her story quilts – the quilt shown above is one of several quilts that, shown together, form a narrative. Ringgold’s quilts are currently on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
The above quilt was made by artist Sanford Biggers and is currently part of the “The Shadows Took Shape” exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Like Ringgold, Biggers’s quilts pay homage to the past. Biggers incorporates navigational codes into his quilts, like those used during the days of the Underground Railroad.
The stunning and diverse quilts of these new artists prove that quilting is not just a thing of the past. To learn more about contemporary quilting, click here to read the article Avant-Garde Quilt Explosion!