Pieced and PatternedAmerican Quilts, c. 1830–1930

September 12, 2021 through January 23, 2022

Unknown Maker, American, Pieced Quilt (detail), c. 1850, Cotton with cotton thread, Collection of Linda McCormick Felts

Mid-Atlantic States, American, Star of Bethlehem Quilt (detail), c. 1840, Cotton, pieced and appliqued; cotton binding, backing, and batting, Collection of Linda McCormick Felts and William C. Felts, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee

This exhibition features more than thirty extraordinary quilts whose design, materials, and craft reflect the complexity and richness of American life from the brash first decades of the republic through the trauma of the Great Depression. Pieced and Patterned is drawn from both public and private collections. It includes superb examples of this quintessentially American art form, ranging from early appliqued textiles to boldly graphic bedcoverings of the early modern era.

With remarkable sensitivity to color, pattern, and optical effects—combined with needlework skills of sometimes amazing dexterity—American women were able to use a range of textiles to create works of exceptional power and subtlety. Pieced and Patterned explores how designs and manufactured fabrics spread across the United States affecting the evolution of these textiles. In addition, the exhibition will explore how these skillfully crafted textiles commemorate not only personal and family events, but major cultural movements and strong political statements.

Pieced and Patterned presents a rare chance to experience these fragile yet resilient textiles, consummate pieces of art that were treasured and handed down across generations. Their beauty is matched only by their role as repositories for memory and history—extraordinary testimonies to the role of women in the political, social, and cultural life of the United States.