Hand-quilting, embroidery featured in Hillestad exhibition

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Hand-quilting, embroidery featured in Hillestad exhibition

Detail of whole cloth quilt, circa 1830
Sarah Walcott | Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design)
Detail of whole cloth quilt, circa 1830

The exhibition “Domestic Interiors: Hand Needlework and the Cult of True Womanhood in 19th Century American Quilts” will run from Dec. 5 through Jan. 20 in the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery. The general public and the university community are invited to attend an opening week reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 9. A free public lecture by Claire Nicholas, assistant professor of textiles and material culture, will be offered at noon Jan. 19 in Room 31 of the Home Economics Building.

“Domestic Interiors” documents the remarkable hand-quilting and embroidery found in many 19th-century American quilts. Using digital macro photography, Sarah Walcott explores the ways in which women’s education, along with social and cultural norms, shaped their experiences, identities and creative lives. Walcott, a graduate student in the Department of Textile, Merchandising and Fashion Design’s quilt studies/material culture program, created the collection of original photographs of hand-quilting and curated the selection of quilts as part of her master’s thesis work. Michael James, Ardis James Professor of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design and department chair, was Walcott’s major professor.

The photographs in the exhibition provide a close-up view of 19th century quilts and quilting usually afforded only to curators or researchers working closely with quilts in a collection, conservation laboratory or research setting. The ways in which the thousands of tiny hand stitches blend almost invisibly into the finished quilt is symbolic of larger invisibilities – of women’s work, their creative pursuits, and the social and cultural constraints that impacted their lives in the 19th century and beyond.

The Hillestad Gallery’s exhibition program is a teaching and outreach effort of the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences. The gallery is located on the second floor of the Home Economics Building, 1650 N. 35th St. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment. Admission is free. Guest parking is available near the building and metered stalls are located in the Nebraska East Union lot. For more information, click here or call 402-472-2911.

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