In the Galleries: March 8 through September 10, 2023
Community Stitches: Quilt Designs & Stories features more than 60 quilts representing over 180 years of quilt-making in America. Curated by Arlene Stevens and Leah Zieber of the California Heritage Quilt Project, highlights include treasures from the Museum’s extensive textile collection along with select pieces on loan. Join us to discover hidden stories in these stitches of the past as we explore the complex history of quilts made by and for the Pasadena community.
THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS:
Susan Stevens and Family
PMH Textile Arts Council
Quilts have been a part of family and community groups since they became a staple in the American household in the early 19th century. Quilters create beautiful and functional pieces that offer comfort and warmth, celebrate and honor individuals and groups, and commemorate significant occasions. With love, artistry, cooperation, and collaboration, quilters piece together our community’s stories in this uniquely enveloping art form.
Community Stitches surveys the fabrics and sources for popular patterns and the tools and techniques used in quilt making. The exhibition also explores the relationships between quilts embellished with illustrations drawn from literature and examples of how businesses promoted quilt-making using these same illustrations. Inspired by unique designs or commercially printed patterns, the quilts in the exhibit demonstrate a diversity of workmanship, technique, and purpose that provides insight into the communities they represent by using quilt making as their foundation.
A special feature of the exhibition showcases three examples of community quilts that mark historic occasions – an institutional first, an anniversary, and a recreation of an historic artifact to share with future generations. PMH is grateful to Jet Propulsion Lab, courtesy of Dr. Laurie Leshin, Director; Pasadena City College, courtesy of Dr. Erika Endrijonas, Superintendent/President; and Old Town San Diego State Historical Park, for the loan of these outstanding quilts. The JPL quilt brought together a far-reaching group of 153 employees, including both experienced and first-time quilters, who created a unique and meaningful welcome gift in 2022 for Dr. Laurie Leshin, the first female director of NASA’s JPL in its then-86-year history. The PCC 75th anniversary quilt (1999-2000), featuring signature pieces representing all departments on campus, was designed by Bobbie Moon and Suzanne Bravender heading a team of 35 members drawn from the PCC parent-teacher organization and PCC staff. The Machado appliqué quilt, the oldest known surviving quilt to have been made in California and now part of the Old Town San Diego State Historical Park collection, was made by Juana Machado around 1850. The reproduction was created to share this important and irreplaceable artifact with the public.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Join co-curators Leah Zieber and Arlene Stevens for a walk through the galleries to explore details in the designs and stories of the exhibition.
Illustrated Zoom presentations with Community Stitches curators exploring the history, culture, and other details of quilting and textiles.
Join us at the Museum as Community Stitches co-curators Leah Zieber and Arlene Stevens share quilts from their private collections.
About the Curators
Guest curator Arlene Stevens has been a quilt maker, quilt history enthusiast and lover of quilts for over 30 years. Her love for quilting started at a young age. “Both grandmothers and a few aunts made quilts and I caught the bug,” she explains. She learned hands-on skills helping her paternal grandmother sew and credits those lessons with teaching her what she knows today. In 2019, Stevens formed “Save the Pieces” to focus on appraising quilts in Southern California and providing education to individuals, guilds, museums, and historical societies on quilt history, fabric/textile dating, and the care/storage of quilts. In 2021, she became a board member of the California Heritage Quilt Project, whose mission is to continue to educate, document and preserve the history of quilts made in, or brought to, California.
Guest curator Leah Zieber loves the fabrics and designs in old quilts; it was learning to make quilts as a young mother that led to her passion for antique quilt history. “My appreciation for the esthetics found in the reproduction fabrics I used started me on the path to collecting antique and vintage quilts, clothing, and other textile related items,” she remembers. For more than 30 years, Zieber has explored and studied the history of textile manufacturing and come to understand the relationships that exist between daily life and textiles. Everything from literature to games to politics are all part of a larger story of American Quilts and Quilt Making. She shares her knowledge, antique quilt collection, and enthusiasm for quilt history through historical fiction, reproduction quilt patterns, quilt study retreats, lectures, and workshops with quilt guilds and other organizations across the US and abroad.
The non-profit California Heritage Quilt Project was established to document California’s quilts of all ages and styles, foster conservation/preservation of the State’s quilt heritage, increase public awareness and appreciation of quilts, and encourage the art of quilt making. Information is entered into the Quilt Index (www.quiltindex.org), an international repository, where the public has access for personal or scholarly research. Arlene Stevens currently President of the Board of Directors and Leah Zieber is Treasurer.
Quilt photography by Joanne Wilborn/Marlyn Woo.