Protecting Our Art Form

Quilting as an art form is in danger. A quick online search for quilt shop closing reveals local quilt stores closing from New York to California, including the major retailer Hancocks. Publishers are closing, such as the Kansas City Star Books, AQS Publishing Division, and the list of magazines such as Quilter’s Newsletter shuttering is disturbing. Nonprofits and Museums such as American Textile History Museum, National Quilting Association, as well as Quilt Museum and Gallery in York all recently closed.

In the midst of these closures, it was a relief to visit the newly opened Iowa Quilt Museum. The museum is located on the town square in picturesque Winterset, Iowa. The town itself is worth the visit, let alone with the bonus of quilts to see. The Museum opened this summer with Three Centuries of Red + White Quilts. Then followed with the exhibit I saw, “Stargazing: American Star Quilts” curated by Virginia Berger. These quilts are on exhibit through January 24, 2017, so you still have time to see the exhibition and support the museum. Two days later the next exhibit “Art Quilts of the Midwest” curated by Linzee McCray will open.

As I drove away from the museum, I was reminded how much the museum wasn’t on a main highway or in a big city, or in a main tourist town. The town didn’t seem large enough to support the quilt museum without outside help. I wished there was a way for support from all over to help ensure the museum would not only survive, but thrive. But as I began thinking about the list of closures, I felt the need to sound a warning call.

If you love this art form support it! Donate to quilt and textile museums to ensure their survival, both the local one in your area and others that you love even if you don’t get to visit often. Subscribe to magazines and purchase books, even if you could simply read your friends copy. Encourage quilts artists by buying their creations, patterns, and books. Support quilt stores online or brick and mortar that sell the type of fabric, classes, or notions that are your favorite. (If your stash is already too big, why not buy some supplies for a new quilter or better yet, someone yet to be inspired by quilting.) Most of all, encourage new people to explore the art form and share your expertise. After all, when is the last time you heard of a football team closing down for lack of interest? Let’s all get out there and cheer for our sport, our art, and our passion.

 

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