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Q is for Quilts

"Q is for Quilts" closes on July 4, 2004

"Quilts, like diaries," says author Roderick Kiracofe, "are an accumulation of bits and pieces of the maker's life, a repository of ideas, hopes and feelings." So it is fitting that quilts should take a special place in the Minnesota History Center, also a storehouse of stories in tangible form.

The "Q is for Quilts" section of the exhibit Minnesota A to Z displays Minnesota quilts and the stories behind them.

Four new quilts are on display:

Earl Gray's Quilt by Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, 1999. Photo of Earl Grey's Quilt

Erica Spitzer Rasmussen teaches studio arts as an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University and as a papermaking instructor at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. This quilt is constructed of Earl Grey tea bags, hand stitched together and backed with Unryu rice paper from Thailand.

"In addition to utilizing handmade paper, I often incorporate non-archival media into my work," Rasmussen said. "I derive great joy from transforming everyday materials into something personal, meaningful and beautiful. When I see tomato paste, dog hair, sausage casings, spent tea bags or dried fish skins, I envision a work that may be transitory in nature, but rich in surfaces."

Cathedral Window Quilt, by Ruth Piippo, about 1979Photo of Cathedral Window Quilt

Ruth Piippo, from New York Mills, Minnesota, collected some 876 cotton prints of the 1940-1970s for her hand stitching. These fabrics were widely available to rural Minnesota families and were commonly seen in the clothing made by mothers and grandmothers and worn by family members to church, to school, and at home. They include pieces of pillowcases, aprons, housedresses, doll clothes, children's school dresses, and party dresses. Several of them were originally printed flour sacks.

Caesar's Crown Quilt, by Mary Henderson Allison, about 1840Photo of Caesar Crown Quilt

Mary Henderson Allison Dorsey made this Caesar's Crown quilt between 1840 and 1860 while living in her hometown of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Mary died in Saint Paul in 1884. Her quilt, after being stored for decades in a family trunk, was donated to the Minnesota Historical Society in 2001 by her great-great-granddaughter, Mary Allison Bigelow McMillan. The Caesar's Crown pattern, one of many quilt patterns popular in the mid-1800s, was revived in the 1930s as the Friendship Ring pattern and published as a Laura Wheeler design.

Corbatas de Familia, by Sylvia Santos, 2001 Photo of Tie Quilt

Sylvia Santos adapted a Native American quilt pattern, incorporating 73 neckties from three generations of the Santos family into a unique radiating circle of color. Her effort took several years and was awarded the Second Premium at the 2001 Minnesota State Fair.

To bind the generations of her family, Sylvia Santos incorporated ties from her husband's grandfather, Wallace B. Santos, her father-in-law, John Santos, and her husband, John Robert Santos.

For nearly two years, quilters came to the History Center every Saturday to create quilts and discuss the process of quilting. The Quilts section opened in October 1997, and a new set of quilts will be displayed each year until the exhibit closes in 2005.

Volunteers in the Minnesota Quilt Project, which has documented more than 3,500 Minnesota quilts in collections across the state, participated in the exhibit and related activities. The project has been a partner in the exhibit.

Q is for Quilts exhibit

The exhibit is a collaboration of the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota Quilt Project and Minnesota Quilters Inc.

[Q is for Quilts] - [Quilting Bees]

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