Amish Abstractions: Quilts from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown

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Pomegranate Communications, 2009 - Crafts & Hobbies - 127 pages
At first glance, Amish quilts may appear curiously similar to works by the great abstract artists of the twentieth century. With their vibrant colors and bold geometric forms, the handcrafted designs seem reminiscent of paintings by Joseph Albers, Mark Rothko, and Frank Stella, among others. This visual coincidence invites a deeper appreciation of the quilts and the communities in which they were created. Closer examination reveals that the principles of the Amish faith-simplicity, humility, discipline, and community-are masterfully stitched into each design. Colorful and dynamic, the remarkable quilts radiate the harmony and dignity of Amish life while providing a window onto the history of American art and textile traditions.

Published in conjunction with the exhibition organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Amish Abstractions: Quilts from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown explores the origins, techniques, and context of these visual masterpieces. More than seventy-five quilts originating in communities throughout Pennsylvania and the Midwest from the 1880s to the 1940s are presented with contributions by three quilt experts: Joe Cunningham, a well-known quilt artist, author, and lecturer; Robert Shaw, an independent curator of numerous quilt exhibitions; and Janneken Smucker, a doctoral candidate at the University of Delaware specializing in quilts from the Amish and Mennonite traditions.

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About the author (2009)

Janneken Smucker is the Graduate Curatorial Assistant for the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She expects to complete her Master of Arts degree in Textile History and Quilt Studies with a minor in Museum Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May 2003. Her research interests include Amish and Mennonite quilts and quiltmakers, intercultural aspects of material culture, and Anabaptist history.

Joe Cunningham has made a living making quilts for 30 years. Author and co-author of numerous books on quilts, quilt history, and quiltmaking, he teaches nationally and curates special quilt exhibits. His alter ego, Joe the Quilter, stars in a one-man musical that explores how quiltmaking was a masculine domain not so very long ago.

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