About Shelly :: Philanthropist
For more than 30 years, a key component to Shelly’s life with quilts is her drive to ensure that the projects she is passionate about become a reality and progress. If funds cannot be raised, then a project becomes just another good idea and there are plenty of those on the cutting room floor. In addition to sweat equity, she also has provided considerable amounts of in kind contributions and cash. The profits from her buying and selling of quilts went solely to fund her nonprofit projects beginning with The Kentucky Quilt Project (1981), Kentucky Quilts in Australia (1987), The Quilt Journals (1992-1994), "Louisville Celebrates the American Quilt" (1992), The Alliance for American Quilts (1993-2006) and beyond. Eleanor Bingham Miller and her family were major funders of some of the projects mentioned.
Because of Shelly’s belief that quilts belong in the place where they were created, she has donated quilts back to their local environs—a Hatfield and McCoy quilt went to Western Kentucky University and a Mississippi quilt went to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Others were donated over the years to the Folk Art Museum in New York, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art Quilt Study Center and to The Art Institute of Chicago where the core of her private collection now resides.
For more than ten years, her home was the office for The Alliance for American Quilts (AAQ), and her assistant worked for The Alliance at no charge to the organization until the AAQ got on its feet. This was just a small part of what she gave to the Alliance during her time leading the organization. As Shelly was leaving the Alliance board in the summer 2006, she urged the organization to create a fund to which she encouraged friends, family and colleagues to donate. She and her husband Kenny also matched the gifts to the “Shelly Fund” from the Board of Directors and recently set up an endowment for The Alliance, the Zegart Fund for The Alliance for American Quilts, at the Western North Carolina Community Foundation.
Another of Shelly's passions was her ten year collaboration with Janine Janniere. Shelly supported Janine's research and efforts to create an international nine country comparative exhibition on the hexagon as an international style. Shelly and Jon Holstein helped significantly to fund Janine's efforts and now the bed and its hexagon Toile de Jouy bed-hangings (the key part of the exhibition) are in the French National Museum of Folk Art in Marseilles, France.
Shelly’s commitment to quilt scholarship never ends. Most significantly Shelly made sure that the archives for the nonprofits she has been passionate about are in a place where people can study the documents over time. All of the Kentucky Quilt Project archives as well as Shelly’s personal archives, including her work in creating and developing The Alliance, are housed at the University of Louisville Archives.
List of materials donated to the University of Louisvile archives (partial):
Donated quilt list (partial):
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1991: "Old Maid" (1871)
- American Folk Art Museum, New York City, NY 1994:
- "The Saddlebred Horse" (circa 1900)
- "Spinning Wheels" (circa 1920)
- "Century of Progress, 1833-1933" (1933)
- Kentucky Museum of Western Kentucky University, 1995: "Hatfield & McCoy" (circa 1940)
- Center for the Study of Southern Culture, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS, 1997: "A Curiosity Bedspread" (1935)