19th Century Needle Artists Upstage Modernism's Embrace of Abstraction and Collage

Press Release 2009

   
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Crazy quilt (detail) by Flora Ellen Jenkins1887 Collection of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Donated by Ellene Sumner)

Still Crazy, a collection of thirty crazy quilts, will open at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles on November 17, 2009. The exhibit explores how a grassroots response to exhibitions of Japanese and British arts and crafts at major 19th century international expositions in the United States gave rise to the glorious Victorian Crazy Quilt.

A purely decorative art object that fused a 16th century Japanese patchwork tradition with the fine embroidery revived by the British Arts & Crafts Movement, the late 19th century crazy quilt presaged modernists' use of abstraction and collage techniques, and was a forerunner of the contemporary art quilt.


Crazy Quilt by Stewart West, 1883
Collection of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Donated by Mr. & Ms. Charles Stanley

"The richness of these textiles and their striking composition of all-over free-form patterning are intriguing and captivating to the imagination and to the hand. Texture, color and pattern come together in a fertile field of inspired design and intricate complexity," said Curator Deborah Corsini.

According to Corsini, the exhibit features an unusual variety of the kinds of textiles that were created including wall hangings, table covers, comforters, and a one of-a-kind matching pair of Victorian parlor curtains.

Of the approximately thirty quilts included, many are being exhibited for the first time after being carefully restored by Museum Collections Care Manager, Joyce Hulbert, and a team of volunteers. "I'm thrilled that the wealth and variety of our crazy quilt collection, born from the generosity of the many donors who have given to the collection over the years, can be featured together in this luscious and sumptuous exhibition," said Hulbert.


Crazy quilt with brown border, 1891
Collection of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Donated by Laurel Kaleda

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles was the first museum in the United States dedicated to quilts and textiles as an art form. Still Crazy runs from November 17 through February 7, 2010. The opening reception, free with admission, is Sunday, November 22, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Regular museum hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $6.50 general; $5 students and seniors; and free to museum members and children under 13. Admission is also free on the first Friday of each month. The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is located at 520 S. First Street in downtown San Jose. For more information, visit www.sjquiltmuseum.org.


G.A.R. Quilt (71.5" x 72")
Album Block Crazy Quilt, Silk and velvet
Made by the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic (L. G. A. R.)
Anna Ella Carroll Circle No. 1, San Jose, California
For Hattie Burgess Shattuck, December 1892
Collection of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Donated by Frank and Joyce Spinelli

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