Textiles and the Triplett Sisters

A Century of African American Quilts


This exhibition in the Foster and Muriel McCarl Gallery at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg displays twelve quilts. Those quilts spanning about a century after 1875 showcase the variety of styles and is a riotous expression of color. Half of these quilts have never been seen before by the public. African American quilts vary widely in style, driven more by the artistic expression of the quilter, rather than a prescribed pattern. It is important to note that all of the quilts in the exhibition were made after the civil war and the end of the era of slavery in America. However, several of the quilters were born into slavery and in some cases descendants of enslaved. All of the quilts are made of simple materials transformed into works of art. If...
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An Agreeable Tyrant


According to the amazing costume designer Edith Head, “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” The brand new American colonists were trying to figure out what they wanted in life and what the fashion of the new country was going to be. A satirical newspaper article first appearing in the 1760’s and republished for many years even after the revolution asked the question “What is Fashion?” The answer of course was, “an agreeable tyrant” an oxymoron if ever there was. Thus the title of the current exhibition was born: “An Agreeable Tyrant: Fashion After the Revolution.” The exhibition running through April 29, 2017 examines fashion for both men and women from 1780 to 1825. For those familiar with the Daughters of the American Revolution building, this exhibition will have a...
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Textile Campaign Art


  Because of the acrimony of the recent election, I’ve been hesitant to write about this subject. However it is an excellent exhibition at the George Washington University Textile Museum. Since “Your Next President…the Campaign Art of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman” only runs through April 10th, I didn’t want to wait too long to write about it. The exhibition is an amazing glimpse into the history of campaigns, starting with some textiles honoring George Washington, even though he refused to campaign. In 1789, Washington “stood” for the position of President, not making speeches or rallying supporters. He left an impression that it wasn’t gentlemanly to campaign. This impression disappeared in the early 1800s. The Andrew Jackson/John Quincy Adams contest of 1828 has been called the dirtiest US presidential campaign. Fabric was printed for President Jackson’s inauguration,...
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Paper Piecing Like You've Never Seen Before


Continuing our adventures in DC we were captivated by the Fan Quilt of Mt Carmel at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The quilt was made by the residents of Bourbon County, Kentucky originally named after the royal family of France who aided the US in the War of Independence. The Ladies Aid Society is prominently featured on the quilt with the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer included, which leads me to speculate they had significant involvement in the creation of the quilt. I was particularly drawn to the “paper” faces in the quilt, identified by the museum as chromolithographic paper decals. Chromolithographic printing was in wide spread use after the civil war and it allowed the middle class also to hang art. It is a colored image printed by many applications of lithographic stones using...
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BAS - Crib Quilts


Continuing our adventure in DC, we took a side trip to the Baltimore Appliqué Society (BAS). The Appliqué Society was founded in 1993 “to preserve antique quilts and promote the art of appliqué.” (To accent or not, that is the question?  My sister is a huge fan of the accent mark on the “e”, which is the French word meaning “applied.” The word absorbed into English is frequently seen without the accent, but since the word is French, I will honor the original spelling.) Since Baltimore is the home of the Baltimore Album Quilt, (what a shock!) it is appropriate that BAS preserves the techniques used to create those masterpiece BAQs. This night’s lecture was by our friend Polly Mello a previous president of the BAS and a gifted appliquer. (Accent not required, since it is...
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