Traveling Exhibitions
Politics NOT as Usual: Quilts with Something to Say
September 11, 2012–February 3, 2013, at the Boca Raton Museum of Art
At the Boca Raton Museum of Art
Organized by the American Folk Art Museum

If American lore is to be believed, women have been encoding their political ideas and opinions into textiles since Betsy Ross first stitched the American flag. The exhibition “Politics NOT as Usual” applauds two centuries of women who wouldn’t take no for an answer; women who used the medium of the quilt to cast their votes, comment on the political landscape, and participate in national life. Drawn from the American Folk Art Museum’s collection, the quilts on view are mostly examples of “best” bedcovers, saved for use on special occasions or when company visited. Many thousands of everyday quilts from past generations that were subjected to hard daily use and the ravages of the washboard rarely survived.

In each of these textiles words and images are visual signifiers that impart a message and provoke a response on the part of the viewer. Their surface embellishments initiate an act of reading the textile and grappling with meaning and intention. Decisions of word choice, graphic strategy, and technique—embroidery, pen and ink, piecing, or appliqué—transform these surfaces into monumental assertions of self-identity, participation in national life, and statements of belief. It quickly becomes evident that quilts offer one of the most eloquent and consistent reflections of American life from the colonial period to the present, primarily from a female perspective.

Stacy C. Hollander, senior curator and director of exhibitions
Reviews & Related Media
• Read about the exhibition in the Sun Sentinel