One collector, 651 red-and-white quilts, six days, nearly 25,000 visitors. Ponder these mind-boggling numbers and you’ll understand why last spring’s Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts exhibit has left a lasting impression on the quilting community even almost a year later. The American Folk Art Museum’s amazing exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City celebrated the decades-long passion of quilt collector Joanna S. Rose, who, for her 80th birthday, wanted to share her collection with others. The jaw-dropping, 360-degree installation was conceptualized by Thinc Design (click here to see a quick video showing the quilts being installed). If you didn’t get a chance to see Infinite Variety in person, you can still get a glimpse of all 651 quilts by downloading the free app for iPad and smartphone (available through iTunes and Android Market; search for Infinite Variety). Plus, click here for a video about the exhibit from the American Folk Art Museum.
There are TONS of sites showing fabulous photos of this exhibit. Just search for Infinite Variety or Red and White Quilts and you’ll come up with oodles of sites showing inspiring photos. Here are just a couple: multiple posts from Karen Griska’s Selvage Blog (be sure to click through to “Older Posts” to see the multiple posts on this topic), a slideshow from the Park Avenue Armory, and Leni Wiener’s blog. Pat Sloan also has a good roundup of blogs, videos, and news articles on her blog.
Quilts inspired by Infinite Variety: Quiltmaker Thelma Childers was so inspired by the Infinite Variety show that she spent the summer of 2011 crafting a quilt, Red-and-White Tribute, that simulates the experience of walking into the exhibit hall. Thelma planned her 4,054-piece, 67½x83″ quilt so it appears that 10 mini red-and-white quilts are overlapping. “I was a maniac about the layering of each mini quilt,” says Thelma, who first sketched the project on graph paper. “The center tree quilt is the only piece where you can view an entire mini quilt. The others show at most two borders, because each one “hangs” in front of or behind another.” Visit Thelma’s blog to see each of the mini quilts and how Thelma determined the final arrangement. To emphasize each of the 10 mini quilts, machine-quilter Connie Lancaster used a variety of both traditional and modern quilting motifs.
One of our favorite designers for American Patchwork & Quilting, Kathie Holland shared her first quilt inspired by the show on her blog. (Be sure to browse around and see what else Kathie is working on!)
Fabrics inspired by Infinite Variety: For the Jo Morton enthusiasts among us, check out the Jo’s Variety collection of quilting fabric for Andover Fabrics. Look for this group of thirteen red-and-white fabrics at your local quilt shop now.
Events/galleries inspired by Infinite Variety: In April 2011, the staff of Temecula Quilt Company in Temecula, California, challenged customers (and readers of their blog) to participate in a red-and-white quilt challenge. They displayed the exhibit during October 2011. Visit their blog and scroll to the October 5th and 11th posts to see photos (check out some of the fun ways quilts were displayed) and to purchase quilt patterns of some of the displayed quilts.
Taryn at the Reproduction and Antique Quilt Lover blog hosted a virtual quilt show; see it here.
On her Material Culture blog, quilt historian Barbara Brackman posted some red-and-white antique quilts and snippets of information about this type of quilts.
Let me know how the Infinite Variety show inspired you!
Elizabeth Tisinger Beese, Senior Editor