Schoolhouse Quilts Gallery Talk and Reception Launch New Hillestad Exhibition

Schoolhouse Quilts Gallery Talk and Reception Launch New Hillestad Exhibition

14 Nov 2008    

Carolyn Ducey, IQSC & Museum Curator of Collections, speaking on new Schoolhouse quilts exhibition in the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery

Textiles, Clothing & Design's Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery was the setting for a lunchtime talk by International Quilt Study Center & Museum's Curator of Collections, Carolyn Ducey, on Friday November 14. The presentation coincided with the opening day of Schoolhouse Quilts: Old and New, a special exhibition organized to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the College of Education and Human Sciences. Bringing together quilts from the IQSC's renowned collection with quilts by Clinton Elementary School students, the show demonstrates the ways that different visual narratives are constructed to embody the experiences of individuals and communities.

Ducey interwove historical facts about the rise of quiltmaking traditions with insightful commentary on the specific quilts on exhibit in the gallery through November 25. She underscored the popularity of schoolhouse patterns in particular, evoking as they do the world of the one room schoolhouse and the condition of the novice schoolteacher of yore who often found herself in an isolated rural community with not much more to occupy her than the four walls of her schoolhouse and the students charged to her to educate. It's easy to understand how this pattern became one of the iconic images in American quilts.

Detail of a midcentury signature quilt commemorating "Woodard School" and "Verna L. Black, Teacher", probably made in Pana, Illinois sometime between 1948 and 1955

Hanging alongside the collection quilts are works by groups of students from neighboring Clinton Elementary School. The quilts grew out of workshop events held in the department and at Clinton School in 2007 in conjunction with the exhibition Give and Take, a show that featured works by well known quilt world teachers and their students. Inspired by the dialogue represented in those pairings, the students engaged with TCD faculty, graduate students, and Friends of the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery volunteers to explore surface design techniques as well as patchwork and applique strategies. Especially valuable during the process of giving visual form to the students' ideas was Sylvia Cox, an IQSC volunteer and current TCD major who took on the task of turning the student's tops into the quilts that grace the gallery walls. Now, over a year later, the inventive and joyful outcomes of those explorations join the graphically bold selections from the IQSC collection in a spirited salute to American education past and present.

Members of the CEHS and TCD communities as well as the general public joined Clinton Elementary School Art Scpecialist Lucy McHugh at the formal opening of the exhibition on Friday evening November 14. A dessert buffet hosted by the Friends of the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery greeted guests to the department who had the opportunity to view a complimentary showing of Clinton school students' preliminary drawings in the TCD corridor display cases.

Lincoln Public Schools Curriculum Specialist for Visual Arts Nancy Childs and Clinton Elementary School Art Specialist Lucy McHugh bookend one of the Clinton students' quilts.

Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design