Williamsburg Colonial Textile Exhibits – Antique Shop
Williamsburg, Virginia – Textile enthusiasts have two new exhibits to enjoy at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, one of two expanded art museums by Colonial Williamsburg.
The art of quilting in the Foster and Muriel McCarl Gallery is open now while Navajo Weaves: Adapting Tradition opens at the Mary B. and William Lehman Guyton Gallery in early August. Both exhibits fit in perfectly with the ever popular exhibits featuring Colonial Williamsburg’s famous collection of quilts. Since opening in 2018, visitors have embraced Navajo Weaves, the first exhibition at Colonial Williamsburg on loan from the Pat and Rex Lucke collection of American folk art enthusiasts.
“The curators of Colonial Williamsburg have worked diligently over the past twenty years to ensure that our collections represent the diversity of the American people,” said Ronald L. Hurst, chief Carlisle H. Humelsine curator of the institution and vice-president for museums, preservation and history Resources. “This critical work is ongoing, and these two exhibitions are clear evidence of our determination to use remarkable objects to tell a fuller and more complete story.”
A three-year exhibition, The art of quilting, rotates a selection of bed quilts from the early 19th century to the present day, with twelve examples each year from Colonial Williamsburg’s extensive collection. Most of the quilts on display have never been shown before and many are recent acquisitions.
The quilts tell stories about the people of America’s past and the societies in which they lived; some of the bedspreads in the exhibition recalled significant events in the life of the creators, such as weddings, births or deaths. Others, like the scrapbook quilts, were created to remind friends and family left behind after a move that documented an increasingly mobile society in the 19th century as people headed west. to new lands and new opportunities. Other stories are expressed through the designs on the bedspreads.
These extraordinary examples of manual labor also demonstrate America’s multicultural society and include objects from the Anglo-American, African-American, German, Amish, and Mennonite communities. The art of quilting will remain visible until July 2024.
“We will literally ‘cover’ America with this exhibit,” said Kimberly Smith Ivey, senior textile curator at Colonial Williamsburg. “Quilts feature a variety of techniques, colors and materials and reflect the diversity of American society. “
Among the quilts presented: a honeycomb quilt in plain cottons printed by Sarah Winifred Cobb (1842-1917) and Rachel, ca. 1850. This reconstructed quilt, in a design often referred to as “grandmother’s flower garden”, is the product of white and black hands. A handwritten label once attached to the quilt reveals that eight-year-old Sarah Winifred Cobb, under the direction of slave Rachel, pieced together the top of the quilt. Apparently, young Sarah was very devoted to Rachel who presided over the nursery for two generations in the family home, “Cobb Hill” in Richmond, Kentucky. Although Sarah and her family are well identified, nothing more is known about Rachel, not even her last name.
Another strong point of The art of quilting is a show quilt made of silk with embroidery floss, attributed to Jane Ault and probably made in Pennsylvania or Ohio, ca. 1900. Made from richly colored silk plains, throws, textured weaves and velvet, this little throw has the added embellishment of feather stitches. Quilts of the late 19th century often used silks edged with decorative stitches to create crazy quilts with wildly asymmetrical pieces. In this example, the design is more organized and symmetrical than that of the crazy quilts; it consists of 323 reconstituted blocks of a repeating pattern of scalloped squares on a point within a square. The last owner remembers that the quilt was given to her mother by her great aunt, Jane Ault.
Due to the popularity of Navajo Weaving: Tradition and Trade, the first exhibit of Native American textiles at art museums, the Luckes have loaned six other weavings to show in a new exhibit, Navajo Weaves: Adapting Tradition, none of which have been on display before at Colonial Williamsburg. This exhibition will remain visible until December 2022.
A long-standing cultural and artistic tradition passed down from generation to generation, anonymous Navajo women have created illustrated blankets and rugs in brilliant colors and bold designs on hand looms. They adapted and modified their weavings from the world around them, creating an art form of their own and providing a glimpse into Navajo culture at the end of the 19th century. Through the woven patterns of these textiles, we learn what was important to manufacturers among the Diné (the term the Navajo use to refer to themselves meaning “the People”) and understand their aspirations.
The earliest Navajo weavings were wearable blankets, known as “chef blankets,” made with a simple horizontal striped and striped design and format. A highlight of Navajo Weaves: Adapting Tradition is an extremely rare classic period chef blanket. While objects like this remain difficult to closely date, as techniques, materials, and design were consistent in Navajo lands for many years, this example is believed to have been made between 1840 and 1860. Its earliest provenance dates from a Ute (Chief Ouray) who obtained cover from the Governor of Pueblo de Taos in the 1870s. Because these covers were utilitarian, many did not survive; it is believed that there are only about 50 to 60 of the earliest classic covers of Ute design and many are in museums. This piece is woven from hand spun single ply Churro wool; its white and brown colors are natural and the blue comes from an indigo dye.
“The six Navajo weavings spanning approximately one hundred years show how highly skilled Navajo weavers have adapted and modified their traditional textiles from the world around them to meet the demands of a modern market and commerce,” said Ivey. “With bold designs and brilliant colors, simple everyday objects like trains, cattle and soda bottles have been transformed into woven works of art, and today tell a fascinating story of adaptation, survival. and change by the Navajo people. “
Another of the weavings featured in this exhibit is the American Flag made between 1900 and 1910 from Germantown yarns, aniline dye and natural white wool. The American flag, while preferred by customers, rarely appears as a true rendering on Navajo weavings. As the flags were displayed on government buildings, the buildings themselves as well as the flags became symbolic of the power and authority of the United States over Navajo lands.
The weavers adapted the flag to their needs, sometimes altering the rectangular shape, changing the number of stars, or replacing them with flowers or anchors to create an entirely different pattern. The high-quality woolen yarn imported by railroad from Germantown, Pa. For use in Navajo weaves has been commercially spun and dyed in bright colors with synthetic dyes. Due to the cost, traders supplied Germantown yarn to the most skilled and talented weavers, resulting in some very remarkable weavings.
The art of quilting is funded by the June G. Horsman Family Trust. Navajo Weaves: Adapting Tradition received funds from anonymous donors
Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum of Folk Art and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, both located in their newly expanded building providing an additional 65,000 square feet, 25% space more galleries and many improvements to the visitor experience. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum houses the country’s first collection of American folk art, with more than 7,000 folk art objects. The DeWitt Wallace Museum of Decorative Arts features the best of British and American fine and decorative arts from 1670 to 1840.
For more information on the Art Museums and Colonial Williamsburg, visit www.colonialwilliamsburg.org; call 855-296-6627; or follow Colonial Williamsburg on Facebook and @colonialwmsburg on Twitter and Instagram.