Field Trip! I went to the Art of the Quilt exhibit at the Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum this morning. It was stunning! When you can get up close to beautiful, historic artwork like these quilts, it's almost impossible to resist the draw of the remarkable colors and simple, repetitive shapes. Individually and as a whole, the visual impact is impressive. Needless to say, I am on inspiration overload right now...
All of the quilts were made by Amish women in Lancaster County, PA, between 1880-1950. Beginning in 1971, Doug Tompkins - co-owner of Esprit de Corps Clothing - began collecting them. The geometry and palettes became the essence of Esprit's aesthetic ~ in their clothing, displays and advertising. As a teen at the height of this look, I can totally see the influence!
Sadly, as someone commented on my original post about the Art of the Quilt exhibit, the Lancaster Quilt & Textile museum has lost state funding and a lot of sponsorship support. This beautiful building is for sale, and the quilts will go back into storage when it is sold. Unless they can get the financial support they need. If you're interested in helping to preserve these historical quilts, you can donate to the Lancaster County Heritage Quilt Fund Endowment.
"In their complexity, visual intensity and quality of craftsmanship, such works simply dispel the idea that folk art is innocent social birdsong. They are as much a part of the story of high aesthetic effort in America as any painting or sculpture. They deserve our attention and abundantly repay it." ~ Robert Hughes, Art Critic & Historian
Note: I edited some of these images to bring up the brightness & contrast. In doing so, I lost the true hues. The colors are much deeper and smokier than they appear here, esp the reds and plums.
Above: In this section of the exhibit, there were articles of Esprit clothing as well as images of their display & advertising, showing the direct influence some of these quilts had on Esprit's look.
Below: I'm pretty sure I had a sweater that looked a LOT like this quilt! My grandma knitted it from a pattern that was influenced by Esprit. I never wore it, tho, b/c it wasn't a "real" Esprit sweater. Ugh!!