Updated May 14, 2020
American Quilts & Social Change Coming To TMA
American quilts have long been connected to notions of tradition, with patterns and techniques passed down for generations in communities throughout the country. As nostalgic symbols of the American past, quilts have also been viewed as antidotes to upheaval during times of change.
Disrupting our expectations of quilts as objects that provide warmth and comfort, Radical Tradition: American Quilts and Social Changewill explore the complicated and often overlooked stories quilts tell about the American experience. Featuring more than 30 quilts that reflect historical and regional diversity, this exhibition will consider how quilts have been used to voice opinions, raise awareness and enact social reform from the mid-19th century to the present.
Radical Tradition will be on view at the Toledo Museum of Art from November 21 through February 14, 2021. The works are drawn from TMA’s collection as well as private and public loans.
Radical Traditionwill offer new perspectives on themes including military action and protest, civil rights, gender equality, queer aesthetics and relationships with land and the environment. Among the artists represented are Sanford Biggers, Bisa Butler, Kathryn Clark, Jeffrey Gibson, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Aaron McIntosh, Diana N’Diaya, Faith Ringgold, L.J. Roberts, Aminah Robinson, Hank Willis Thomas and Anna Von Mertens, with works including an abolition quilt (about 1850), a Red Cross fundraising quilt (1917), Judy Chicago’s communal International Honor Quilt (1980) and a panel from the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
While addressing these powerful themes, Radical Tradition will highlight how, over nearly two centuries, the strategies and materials of quiltmaking have called into question long-established power structures. Earlier quilts in the exhibition represent one of the few available outlets that women and other marginalized groups had to express their views and connect with larger social and political networks of their time. Building upon this history, some quiltmakers from more recent decades have chosen to work within this craft-based medium – typically associated with “the domestic” – in order to subvert hierarchies both within the art world and in society at large. Incorporating a wide range of media – from cotton and wool to salvaged wood, paint and celluloid film – the objects on view will challenge traditional definitions of what a quilt is and the form it can take.
A 100-page fully illustrated publication accompanies the exhibition, with an introduction by the curator.
Radical Tradition: American Quilts and Social Change will be complemented by an array of public programs, including a quiltmaking workshop led by one of the contemporary artists featured in the exhibition, a curator talk and other programs to be announced.
TMA Plans COVID-19 Virtual Quilting Bee Project
Inspired by Radical Tradition: American Quilts and Social Change, the Toledo Museum of Art is organizing a COVID-19 Virtual Quilting Bee in advance of the exhibition opening.
Art and museums offer a space for many to reflect, process and respond during difficult times, and quilting bees have long been an activity for community building, shared labor and intergenerational engagement. Community members near and far are encouraged to submit quilt blocks that address aspects of life amid the current global pandemic, which marks a moment of change and uncertainty on a global scale. Individuals will submit photos of their quilt blocks for inclusion. Due to social distancing measures, these blocks will be “stitched together” in an online photo gallery and through TMA’s social media platforms.
Submission guidelines are available at www.toledomuseum.org/quilting-bee. Photos of finished quilt blocks should be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 1.
The Port Of Toledo: Then & Now Available Online
The National Museum of the Great Lakes announces the opening of an online, interactive exhibit meant to capture the vibrancy and importance of the Maumee River and the Port of Toledo over time. The Port of Toledo: Then & Now online exhibit can be accessed for free by visiting nmgl.org/portoftoledo.
The exhibit’s landing page showcases a Port of Toledo map with icons indicating the location of various photos taken throughout history around the Maumee River. The exhibit will be updated every few weeks with new images and stories. Visitors can click to learn more about each individual image and leave comments or share their own memories.
The initial exhibit focuses on the Port of Toledo “then.” Still to come, the museum will explore the Port of Toledo as we know it now by showcasing collected and crowd-sourced images mirroring the historic story of the “Mighty Maumee.” Finally, in September, the National Museum of the Great Lakes will open a temporary exhibit in the History Walk Gallery of ProMedica’s historic steam plant headquarters, bringing together the beauty of the online exhibit with images and the incredibly real experience of artifacts.