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2008: Shelly Zegart: Passionate about Quilts - Challenging Assumptions, Creating Change, Making Connections

09/04/2008 - 10/26/2008
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Brown-Forman Gallery (Louisville, Ky)

"Shelly Zegart: Passionate About Quilts - Challenging Assumptions, Creating Change, Making Connections" exhibit at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Crafts highlighted her more than 30 years of contributions to the world of quilts and beyond. It featured quilts from Zegart's collection that are important to her because of their relationships to family, particular artists, specific exhibitions, and significant local collections. A catalogue is available. The exhibit, part of the museum's Kentucky Collectors Series, was sponsored by Eleanor Bingham Miller.

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2008: Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival

01/18/2008 - 01/26/2008
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival is an annual event sponsored by NHK (Japanese Public Television). In 2008, Shelly Zegart curated this exhibit and presented several examples of Log Cabin pattern quilts from the United States.

"Log Cabin designs are among the most popular and easily recognized if all quilt patterns, as well as the most diverse and creative. The Log Cabin block was designed as a way to make use of small scraps of fabric. The infinite variety of arrangements lends itself to unique personal expression and interpretation. <...> In America, the pattern is linked to the second presidential campaign of Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Log cabins has special significance for Lincoln - as the place of his birth in a log cabin in Kentucky..."

A video clip is available from the video footage of this exhibit in the Multimedia section of this Website..

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2007: Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival

01/19/2007 - 01/27/2007
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival is an annual event sponsored by NHK (Japanese Public Television). In 2007, Shelly Zegart curated this exhibit and presented several examples of Antique Basket pattern quilts from the United States.

"Many children in America learned the 19th century nursey rhyme that opened with this line: 'A tisket a tasket a green and yellow basket.' In 1938 Ella Fitzgerald had hit song with these lyrics. In all cultures baskets have served men and women in every part of daily life. <...> Basket patterns, both pieced and applique, crept into American quilt design beginning in the early 19th century. What women saw around them every day served as their inspiration to create basket quilt blocks..."

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2006: Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt

10/08/2006 - 12/31/2006
Speed Art Museum - Louisville, KY

Quilts and the act of quiltmaking have played an important role in the homes and lives of Americans from our colonial beginnings to our contemporary culture. Occupying a singular position within the history of art, quilts are able to combine individual and communal histories, survival-based functionality, and complex compositions and formal elements in a single and complete work of art.

"Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt" displayed the extraordinary accomplishments of a distinctive community of artists and their unique creative voice preserved and handed down for generations.

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2005: Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival

01/27/2005 - 02/02/2005
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival is an annual event sponsored by NHK (Japanese Public Television). In 2005, Shelly Zegart curated this exhibit and presented several examples of Antique Schoolhouse pattern quilts from the United States.

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2004: 3 Faces of Gee's Bend: Quilts from Gee's Bend, Alabama

12/06/2004 - 01/21/2005
New York, NY

In the winter of 2002-03, quilts from the tiny, African American town of Gee's Bend, Alabama, burst into worldwide visibility through an exhibition, "The Quilts of Gee's Bend," presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Gee's Bend unique history, its geographical isolation enforced by the looping Alabama River, its people's distinctive mores and common descent from the slaves that had tended the land - was revealted to be linked to a bold aesthetic that emphasized both individual flair and community traditions.

Sponsored by The Durst Organization at two lobby galleries in midtown Manhattan in 2004-2005, the exhibition "The Three Faces of Gee's Bend" presented three incarnations of the now widely recognized Gee's Bend style, as embodied in the works of a "traditionalist" (Lucy T. Pettway), an "eccentric" (Irene Williams), and an "outsider" (Mary McCarthy).

Shelly Zegart co-curated this exhibit with L.L.Powers.

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2004: Exploring Quilts: Art, History, and Craftsmanship

03/17/2004 - 09/12/2004
Art Institute of Chicago, Elizabeth F. Cheney and Agnes Allerton Textile Galleries (G. 54-56)

«Quilts are records of history, not only style but events, people and lifestyles.»

The Art Institute of Chicago acquired a group of 21 splendid 19th- and 20th-century American quilts from Kentucky collector Shelly Zegart in the spring of 2002. This acquisition -- 14 gifts and seven purchases -- fills a major place in the museum's renowned textiles collection, not only enhancing the present collection of 155 such pieces, but decisively moving the Art Institute in to the front ranks of American museums with similar holdings.

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2003: Mosaic Textiles: In Search of the Hexagon

05/16/2003 - 10/27/2003
Musee des Traditions et Arts Normands au Chateau de Martainville (France)

Two exciting patchwork exhibitions "In Search of Hexagon" occurred in venues in Normandy near Rouen, France (opening date: May 16, 2003).

The first, an exhibition of historical patchwork pieces with the hexagon motif included examples from various countries of the Western world (France, United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia, Norway). These "Mosaiques d'etoffes" ('fabric mosaics' in English), to quote the historical term used to designate them in the past, in French-speaking countries date from the early 1800s to the 1930s, and have never been gathered together by a museum in France or anywhere else in the world.

At the same time in the nearby regional museum, le Musee Industriel de La Corderie Vallois, there was an exhibition of contemporary hexagon quilts selected by France Patchwork (The French Quilt Guild).

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2001: A Heritage of Genius: American Master Quilts Past and Present

11/29/2001 - 01/31/2002
New York City, NY

"The quilting tradition in America has produced a heritage of brilliant artistic accomplishments that is unencumbered with the pretenses of 'Art'. The need to decorate and embellish, perhaps to evoke the visual richness of exalted states or simply to relieve the drabness of everyday life, is apparently basic and primal to our species," says L.L.Powers, curator and organizer of the "Heritage of Genius: American Master Quilts" exhibit.

Shelly Zegart along with Eleanor Bingham Miller shared their expertise in the field as well as parts of their own quilt collections to contribute to the success of the exhibit.

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1998: Kentucky Quilts: Roots & Wings

Morehead College, KY

The original exhibit "Kentucky Quilts: Roots and Wings" was hosted by the Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead College (Morehead, KY). It traveled for two more years, 1999-2000.

The original idea behind this exhibit suggests that visual and thematic relationship exists between contemporary works and their historical predecessors. The goal of this exhibit was to bring the extraordinary vision and aesthetic achievements of Kentucky quiltmaking to the attention of the public and to celebrate the medium of quilting as a form of artistic expression.

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1991-92: Louisville Celebrates the American Quilt

11/1991 - 04/1992
Louisville, KY

In 1990 the current directors of The Kentucky Quilt Project, Shelly Zegart, Eleanor Bingham Miller, and Jonathan Hostein, began to discuss an appropriate way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the historic exhibition, Abstract Design in America Quilts, which opened at the Whiteney Museum of America Art, New York, in 1971. The exhibition, curated by Jonathan Holstein and Gail van der Hoof, created a worldwide awareness of American quilts as designed objects. It was decided that it would most beneficial to plan a group of events which might illustrate and further the extraordinary developments in the field over the past two decades. A recreation of the Whitney exhibition was a logical starting point, as many quilt researchers and scholars, quiltmakers, collectors, and museum personnel now actively involved with quilts, never saw that original show. Also planned were five exhibitions, four conferences and additional associated events. The exhibitions were: Abstract design in American Quilts, at the Louisville Museum of History and Science; A Plan Aesthetic: Lancaster Amish Quilts, at the J.B.Speed Museum; Always There: The African-American Presence in American Quilts, at the Louisville Museum of History and Science; Quilts Now at Zephyr Gallery; Narrations: The Quilts of Yvonne Wells and Carolyn Mazloomi at the Louisville Visual Art Association; and Quilt Conceptions: Quilt Designs in Other Media at the Kentucky Art and Craft Gallery.

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1991-2007: The History of Quilt Index

The Quilt Index is a central resource that incorporates a wide variety of sources and information on quiltmakers, quilts and quiltmaking.

The Quilt Index represents years of research and development to bring together quilt information in a centralized online tool for education, research, and public access. The Quilt Index was conceived and developed by The Alliance for American Quilts and implemented in collaboration with Michigan State University's MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online and the Michigan State University Museum.

Quilt Index includes:

  • Images and information on privately held quilts compiled by state and regional quilt documentation projects in the United States and internationally;
  • Images and information on quilts in museums, libraries, and private collections;
  • Images and information on quilt-related ephemera;
  • Lesson plans, online exhibits, journals and essays;
  • Bibliographies of secondary materials relevant to quilt study
  • Aids developed to assist researchers with locating hard-to-find quilt-related primary and secondary materials in public collections.

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1980-present: The Kentucky Quilt Project

Louisville, KY

In her article "Affairs of State - Documenting the Past for the Future," Shelly Zegart describes how The Kentucky Quilt Project was conceived:

"The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc., was formed in early 1981 and took two years to bring to fruition. To gather the quilts, we took The Project to the people by developing Quilt Days as an event. Twelve of them were held in Kentucky. No one had to travel more than fifty miles to participate in a Quilt Day. They were heavily advertised with the help of a network of local organizations. The volunteer effort was assisted by the newly formed Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society. Quilt Days became magical happenings as quilts that had been 'hiding' in closets, trunks, and cupboards were raised to a hanging position-many seen on the wall for the first time. Talks were given about preservation and donation of quilts to Kentucky museums. Excitement filled the air at each Quilt Day. People didn't want to go home until the very last quilt had been raised and discussed. The Kentucky Sun, the cover quilt of our book, turned up at the Somerset Quilt Day, as did some wonderful 19th-century examples of quilting and applique. Many women were perplexed and surprised to see us make such a fuss over the poorly quilted and roughly pieced wool everyday quilt. To this day, it remains my personal favorite from that Kentucky search."

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