Kentucky Museum News
Kentucky Museum Receives Two Grants for Whitework: Women Stitching Identity
- Tiffany Isselhardt
- Monday, July 20th, 2020
The Kentucky Museum has received grants from the Quilters Guild of Dallas and the Kentucky Humanities Council to support production of Whitework: Women Stitching Identity, an exhibition for 2021 that will explore the significance of early white embellished bedcovers and textiles that have been largely ignored, undervalued, and misinterpreted.
Kentucky Museum Registrar/Collections Curator Sandy Staebell noted that the financial support provided by the Kentucky Humanities Council and the Quilters Guild of Dallas will enable the participation of three nationally recognized experts on textile history, textile conservation, and early American history in telling this uniquely American story. These experts are Laurel M. Horton, a folklorist who served as Editor of Uncoverings and held numerous fellowship and consultancy positions; Dr. Margaret Ordonez, former Professor and Director of the Historic Textile Collection at the University of Rhode Island; and Dr. Kate Brown, WKU Assistant Professor of History.
The exhibit is based on research by Laurel M. Horton, which revealed that whitework textiles are elaborate in make and meaning. In make, they are often complex arrangements of intricately stitched motifs expressed in large scale. In meaning, the women who chose to make whitework textiles—whatever techniques they used—committed countless hours to their creation. The variety, individuality, and artistry of the textiles suggests that women did not make them purely for decoration; they were using needlework as a medium for self-expression and political participation. Historical context reveals these textiles were primary vehicles for women to support the political and economic development of the early United States.
Whitework: Women Stitching Identity is co-sponsored by the Kentucky Historical Society and focuses on Kentucky traditions of whitework, as shown in textiles held by the Kentucky Museum and Kentucky Historical Society. Horton’s research has revealed Kentucky whitework textiles hold a “special place” within the cultural geography of textile making. By focusing on this special place, audiences will better understand the textiles of Kentucky women and connect these works to broader narratives of American women’s lives and self-expression of identity during the formative years of the new United States.
Whitework: Women Stitching Identity is also supported by two grants from the American Quilt Study Group. The exhibition will premiere in 2021 at the Kentucky Museum.
About Quilters Guild of Dallas
Founded in the late 1970s, the Quilters Guild of Dallas preserves the heritage of quilting, serves as a source of information and inspiration, and perpetuates a high quality of excellence in quilting and related arts. The Guild includes over twenty Friendship Groups, a library, annual quilt show, and various workshops and meetings.
About Kentucky Humanities
Kentucky Humanities is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. Kentucky Humanities is supported by the National Endowment and by private contributions. Their work tells the stories of contributions from every walk of life, building civic engagement and literacy across the Commonwealth.
About Kentucky Museum
For over 80 years, the Kentucky Museum celebrates all aspects of South-Central Kentucky’s art, history, and culture. “Kentuckians need to know Kentucky” was the museum’s earliest conceptual framework, which took shape in the eyes of WKU’s founding president Henry Hardin Cherry. Today, we are a steadfast educational campus partner helping to inspire innovation, elevate community, and transform the lives of our students and the community.