FAMSF presents Amish Abstractions: Quilts from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown in the Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Textile Gallery at the de Young. The exhibition, which runs through June 6, 2010, features 48 full-size and crib quilts that showcase the diversity of the Amish quilt tradition. As an exhibition supplement, the textile education gallery is devoted to quilts and visitors of all ages are invited to create their own quilt patterns using wooden blocks.
This week, I explored the education gallery. Within a few minutes of being there, I had assembled a Sunshine and Shadow pattern by arranging the colored blocks from lightest to darkest. Next, I designed a Bowtie pattern; it was like working with a puzzle. The group beside me learned how to design a Roman Stripe pattern by arranging the blocks in squares divided diagonally into two triangles, one half in a solid color, the other striped. It was fun to experiment with quilt geometry. By learning just a few simple concepts, I was able to understand how Amish quilt-makers created their patterns. I left thinking that I could create a quilt pattern of my own.
After spending time in the education gallery, I walked through Amish Abstractions with a new understanding of how each quilt was designed and how the arrangement of individual squares formed the overall pattern. The quilts are visual distillations of the Amish culture and a truly unique contribution to American textile history.
The admission for Amish Abstractions is included in the permanent collection ticket at the de Young.