Quilt Center to display first major Central Asian exhibit

Quilt Center to display first major Central Asian exhibit

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This patchwork wall hanging made in Uzbekistan circa 1870-1880 is one of dozens of pieces featured in "Sacred Scraps: Quilt and Patchwork Traditions of Central Asia," which is now showing at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

“Sacred Scraps: Quilt and Patchwork Traditions of Central Asia” will open at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, 1523 N. 33rd St., on May 12, becoming the first major museum exhibition to present the patchwork and quilting traditions of the region.

Guest-curated by scholar Christine Martens in partnership with the center's curator of international collections, Marin Hanson, the exhibit will feature traditional textiles from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

“We are proud to be the first museum devoting a major exhibition to the quilts and patchwork of Central Asia,” said Leslie Levy, Ardis and Robert James Executive Director of Quilt House. “These colorful and vibrant pieces will appeal to visitors of all kinds, who will see both familiar and unfamiliar patterns and imagery throughout the gallery.”

Women from this region of vast deserts, arid steppes and dramatic mountain ranges have long pieced and quilted items for both everyday use and celebratory events. In addition to clothing and bedding, patchwork also served as a protective charm or talisman, believed to guard against sorcery, illness and malevolent spirits. Illuminating the function of patchwork as an amuletic device in Central Asia, provides a unique and intimate glimpse into the lives and traditions of a large but little known swath of the Islamic world.

This exhibition has grown from several years of Martens’ field research and collecting in Central Asia on behalf of the museum.

“Our close partnership with (Martens) has resulted in our being able to showcase textiles from a part of the world many people have yet to be exposed to," Hanson said.

Martens will provide a tour of the exhibition at 5:30 p.m. June 2, which will include insight into her research and collecting efforts. The museum will offer free admission to the galleries and light refreshments from 4 ot 7 p.m. in conjunction with Lincoln’s First Friday Artwalk.

Since being established at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1997, the museum’s collection has grown to include examples of quilt-making from more than 50 countries with pieces dating back to the 1600s. In recent years, the quilt center has focused on international acquisitions, with a goal of having an inclusive collection that represents the breadth of traditions throughout history and across cultures.