"Maverick" Quilts at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
Whirling Ninepatch, c. 1900, maker and region unknown. Photo by Jean Demeter.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, whose motto is, “The Women Who Shape the West…Change the World,” is hosting the world premiere exhibition of 35 unusual American quilts entitled, “Off the Wall: Maverick Quilts” through March 31.
Organized by Julie Silber and Jean Demeter of The Quilt Complex in Albion, California, “Maverick Quilts” demonstrates the ways that different individuals interpret the same traditional quilt patterns in dramatically dissimilar ways. The delightful results, according to the Museum, show quilts that “range from the elegant to the primitive, from predictable to wildly inspired. These antique quilts are moving and amusing, formal or funky. And all stops in between.”
The exhibit, which spans almost two centuries of quiltmaking, features mostly utilitarian quilts, although some of the pieces are very well crafted.
The Quilt Complex notes that all the quilts share “an unusual twist on the ordinary, a verve and a gritty individuality rarely found in more studied and self-conscious quilts. We do not know if the techniques or patterns they employ were the result of misunderstandings of the normal way of quiltmaking, or a conscious rejection of it.”
“There are many obvious ties between quilts and those very women we honor in our Museum,” notes Diana Vela, associate executive director of exhibits and education. “Many of our honorees were considered ‘mavericks’ in their time—doing things that were out of the ordinary, and going against traditionally prescribed roles. This exhibit nicely complements our mission to speak about those women who shaped the west and changed the world.”
The 10-year-old Museum was founded not only to preserve cowgirl history, but also, according to founders, “to share…the colorful stories behind these Western women who lived from the mid-1800s to present day—the pioneers, the artists and writers, the tribal leaders, the entertainers, the social activists, the modern ranchers, the rodeo cowgirls.”
Augmenting the Maverick exhibit are two special quilts on loan from the Texas Quilt Museum: The Barrel Racer by Susan H. Garman and The Mighty Oak by Mary Huntington. These pieces also hung in the Museum Rotunda, and dovetailed with the 2013 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo earlier this year, which brought many visitors to the Museum.
Also corresponding to the quilt exhibit, the Museum accepted submissions of “Boots” quilt blocks intended to create community quilts.
The Quilter’s Guilds of Plano, Dallas, and McKinney, Texas are among those who are helping with the community quilts, along with additional participation from individual quilters and area shop owners. Depending on the number of quilts made, one or more may remain as part of the Museum’s permanent collection and others may be raffled off to raise funds for the Museum’s educational projects. The Museum welcomes any quilters who have the time to donate to assemble their quilts or participate in some way.
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