Quilts Below the Radar Press Release

Media Contact:
Michael Coats
Coats Public Relations
(707) 935-6203
Unconventional and Unexpected:
Quilts Below the Radar, 1950-2000
Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
February 14 – May 16, 2015

SONOMA, CA – This spring, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art will present Unconventional and Unexpected: Quilts Below the Radar, 1950-2000, an exhibition showcasing a dynamic and visually vibrant selection of American pieced quilts and quilt tops from the mid to late twentieth century.   The selection of quilts, boldly unique in construction and design, contributes to a greater historical narrative of quiltmaking in the United States, and investigates what this particular creative medium brings to our lives, and what it can teach us about the practice of making and viewing art.

The quilts featured in the exhibition will be selected from the vast collection of renowned quilt authority and collector Roderick Kiracofe, who will also curate the show.  Exploring an art form that has long existed below the radar of the art world, Kiracofe’s collection highlights the wide-ranging artistic talents of primarily anonymous, self-taught female quiltmakers.  Though often made for use in the home, these quilts nonetheless articulate many of the issues at the core of the modern art movement that developed over the second half of the twentieth century.

“These quilts are not precious; they are ‘real’ and were made to be used,” Kiracofe notes. “In some instances, the makers responded to and extended the visual conversation happening in the ‘high art’ world at the time of their creation, while in other instances they captured not only the feeling and sensibility of a specific time period but also the iconography deployed through entire generations.”

The author of several books on quilts, including The American Quilt and Unconventional and Unexpected, American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000, out of which this exhibition was born, and co-founder of The Quilt Digest, an annual publication that brought together the antique and contemporary quilt worlds for the first time, Kiracofe was the first to document the history of the twentieth century quilt movement.  Though many have documented the history of quiltmaking in the United States prior to the 1940s, few in the field believed quality quilts were produced in the later half of the century, that in fact the 1940s marked the end of quiltmaking as a form of creative self-expression.  This exhibition aims to challenge this belief.

“These quilts, the ones America lives with, had always had a place in my aesthetic but sadly, were still not widely regarded within the walls of cultural institutions and museums as worthy contributions to the narrative of quilt production in America,” Kiracofe says.

Made of surprising materials, in bold designs, using dramatic colors, never before has there been an exhibition of maverick quilts like this one.

About the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art:
Established in 1998, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is a membership supported 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that provides seasonal exhibitions of contemporary and modern art and educational and public programming for children, youth and adults. Its mission is to be, “a magnet of creative energy and cultural inspiration with exhibitions and educational programs that engage the community in the art and ideas of our time, encouraging curiosity and innovation.”

The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is located at 551 Broadway, one half block up from Sonoma’s historic Plaza. Regular Museum hours are 11am–5pm Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults. Children k–12 are admitted free, as are SVMA members. Additional information is available at www.svma.org or by calling (707) 939-7862.


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