Tom's Quilt. Jean Ray Laury. Clovis, California. 1956. Private collection

Tom’s Quilt.
Jean Ray Laury.
Clovis, California. 1956.
Private collection

August 4-October 28, 2012

Organized especially for the Whatcom Museum, American Quilts: The Democratic Art is the first exhibition to tell the whole story of American quilts and quiltmakers, providing a visually compelling, in-depth study of the art, history, and cultural importance of American quilts, from their European origins to the present day.

Based on Robert Shaw’s definitive 2009 book “American Quilts: The Democratic Art 1780-2007,” the exhibition offers a stunning array of thirty quilt masterpieces spanning the entire history of American quiltmaking. It is co-curated by Shaw and fellow quilt expert, author and curator Julie Silber.

Exploring the great visual and cultural diversity of American quilts, the show includes prime examples from a variety of regional quiltmaking traditions as well as outstanding works by Amish, Hawaiian, African-American, and Native American quiltmakers.

Accessible to anyone who can sew, quilts and quiltmaking have been a major form of expression for American women — as well as some men —  and an important part of this country’s cultural landscape since the late 1700s. The best quilts also are significant works of art.