Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts at the New York Armory
For six days, Joanna Rose gave the people of New York City, tourists and quilters from all over the world a special gift in celebration of her 80th birthday. The collection of dazzling, swirling and soaring red and white quilts — 651 of them — the largest collection ever assembled. And we thought it would be really cool to invite a class of New York City students to check out this one-of-a-kind exhibit because as many of you know, for over a decade we’ve been decorating our very own Soaringwords red and white quilts and pillows to donate to hospitalized kids. We were so thrilled that the American Folk Art Museum gave us permission to film the student field trip at the exhibit, so that we could share the magic of this exhibit with hospitalized kids all around the world and inspire them to “Never give up!”
The kids left their neighborhood early that morning to take the subway ride to the cavernous Park Avenue Armory, the site of the show.One hour before the throngs of people started to fill the Armory to capacity, we led a tour for 17 creative and inquisitive seventh graders. Together, we explored various themes, including Sun, Stars, Animals, and Nature, which were sewn by hundreds of American women who lived between 1700s and the 1900s.
The Sun was a popular motif since domestic life revolved around farming and people woke and went to sleep around the sun, since there was no electricity. This was fitting because earlier that morning the auxiliary power source in the armory had gone out and magically the lights turned on just as we began the tour. In 1816, the kaleidoscope was invented and quilters were inspired by the angled images. At this time eight pointed stars and quilts with floating geometric shapes became really popular.
Our tour became a main attraction of the show. We were surrounded by hundreds of older adults who were mesmerized by the enthusiasm of the children, appreciating that they were watching the next generation fall in love with the rich history and magic of quilts. The best part was when the students created their own artwork inspired by the exhibit to give to dozens of lucky patients at the Montefiore Medical Center.
Check out Armory quilt exhibit installation in stop-motion on YouTube.