Mathers Presents Ralli Quilts from Pakistan
By Sanya Ali
Judith Kirk, assistant director of the museum, said she hopes to show those attending the show a different sort of quilting than they may practice.
“The goal is to introduce another perspective on quilting and to share with visitors a small selection of really beautiful textiles and to offer individuals who are coming into Bloomington another aspect of quilting as well,” Kirk said.
Kirk said this year’s exhibit, which begins today, includes donated quilted pieces from Pakistan and parts of India.
She said these quilts are not all in the form of traditional bed covers, but also showcase how typical techniques of quilt making can be used in other products.
“There’s a little difference between quilting as a technique and what we normally refer to as a quilt, which is sort of synonymous with bed covers,” Kirk said. “What we’re looking at are quilted materials using the technique of quilting. There are a couple of quilted tops and bed covers and several bags that are made using this sort of quilting ?technique.”
Kirk said the works in this exhibit came from collector Madge Minton’s personal collection, which was donated to Mathers 30 or 40 years ago.
Ellen Sieber, chief curator at Mathers, said she believes people should see these works because of their aesthetic charm.
“The quilt tops and carrying bags are very beautiful, so any visitor will probably enjoy seeing them,” Sieber said.
For those in town for the show, Sieber said the bags carry great educational value on a different quilting technique.
“Most quilters in our community are really interested in seeing quilts from other parts of the world,” Sieber said. “In this exhibit, we provide information about Ralli quilt tradition so that local quilters can compare and contrast with their own quilting work.”
Kirk said she loves the pieces in this collection and the museum rarely has a chance to show them off.
“I have to say, it’s quite beautiful,” Kirk said. “They’re traditional quilts, and the textiles that are created use wonderful patterns and colors reflective of traditional textiles in India and Pakistan. They’re very appealing and functional.”
Sieber said her personal tie to the art form makes her doubly excited for this ?exhibit to begin.
“I look forward to this exhibition every year because I like to display items from our collection that will interest and perhaps inspire quilters,” Sieber said. “Because I’m a quilter myself, it’s a personal joy to share the Mathers Museum’s collection with other quilters.”
Kirk said even experienced quilters will be impressed with the different skill sets associated with these pieces.
“In this country we have a particular way of describing quilts,” Kirk said. “There’s a kind of tradition that’s associated with ‘family quilting,’ but again, that’s only one perspective of quilting. This is a technique that’s known worldwide, and it’s nice to see it being utilized in other ways and utilizing other kinds of textiles.”?
As for future exhibits, Kirk said the museum will continue to reach out to find fresh perspectives on the art form.
“We are in the process of developing, along with partners in China, exhibits of quilted textiles form China that will be traveling to the U.S. in a few years,” Kirk said. “We’ll be hosting this exhibit when it comes here, so it’s sort of reflective of that desire to show quilting around the world and to make connections through quilts to other cultures.”
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