American Quilt Study Group awards Kentucky Museum grant for Whitework: Women Stitching Identity
- Author: Tiffany Isselhardt
- Author: Tuesday, March 26th, 2019
The Kentucky Museum has received a grant from the American Quilt Study Group that will allow the Museum to begin production of Whitework: Women Stitching Identity, an exhibition for 2020-21 that will explore the significance of early white embellished bedcovers and textiles that have been largely ignored, undervalued, and misinterpreted.
Disregarded for years, recent research has shown 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 focuses on Kentucky traditions of whitework, which research has revealed holds 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.
“We are thrilled to receive support for Whitework from the American Quilt Study Group,” said Tiffany Isselhardt, Fundraising Coordinator for the Kentucky Museum. “This exhibition is a great continuation of our focus on interdisciplinary engagement with our collections, and it will help bring this important and often overlooked area of women’s history into the spotlight. Textiles are an amazing resource on women’s lives, and collaboration with our Whitework partners will help make this resource more accessible and engaging for our campus and community.”
Whitework: Women Stitching Identity is being curated in partnership with Laurel Horton, an internationally acclaimed quilt researcher and lecturer; 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 American Quilt Studies Group grant will support the production of exhibit narratives and a catalog, which will enable WKU faculty, students, and outside researchers to learn more about the collection and use the textiles in their classes.
The exhibition will premiere in 2020 at the Kentucky Museum.
The Museum is currently seeking sponsors to support additional research, textile conservation, and educational programs for our campus and community. To donate, please click here or call Fundraising Coordinator Tiffany Isselhardt at 270-745-3369.
About Kentucky Museum
Now in our 80th year, 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.