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MAG Exhibition Explores Two Centuries of American Quiltmaking
From MAGnificent Inspiration: The Art Quilt: Patricia Faulkner of Rochester was inspired by Winslow Homer's Artist's Studio in an Afternoon Fog.

ROCHESTER, NY.-"Wild By Design: 200 Years of Innovation and Artistry in American Quilts," a nationally touring exhibition, opens January 20, 2008 at the Memorial Art Gallery and remains on view through March 16.

Far from simple exercises in geometric patterning, the 25 quilts in this exhibition represent a free-wheeling tradition in which improvisation, asymmetry and experimentation are the norm. Selected from the collection of the International Quilt Study Center by Janet Berlo, professor of art history at the University of Rochester, these quilts explore the once-radical proposition that some 19th-century American women were "painting with fabric." Ranging in date from about 1825 to 1999, the quilts are by artists both known and unknown, all of whom share an essential quality—the desire to push the boundaries of their medium in their own time.

"Quilts are iconic in our American heritage," says Berlo, "precisely because they represent so many things to so many people. As symbolic objects, quilts give shape to an idealized story about American ingenuity and self-sufficiency in general, and female frugality, secrecy, originality and artistry, in particular."

COMPANION EXHIBITION: "Michael James: Reinventing Quilts in a Digital Age" brings together seven highly original works by one of the country’s pre-eminent contemporary quiltmakers. On view throughout the exhibition.

QUILT SHOW AND SALE; "MAGnificent Inspiration: The Art Quilt" showcases 30 area artists whose small wall-hung art quilts respond to works in MAG’s permanent collection. On view through February 17.

PROGRAMS AND EVENTS: These include an exhibition opening party (January 19); lectures by artist Michael James (January 20) and "Wild By Design" curator Janet Berlo (February 3); a lecture and luncheon featuring art historian Jonathan Holstein (February 2), a teachers’ inservice (January 23), a family day (February 10), and a series of Creative Workshop art and art history classes. For more information visit .

EXHIBITION CATALOG: A fully-illustrated softcover catalog is available at the Gallery Store. This popular catalog, which has been out of print for several years, is being reissued for the Memorial Art Gallery and subsequent venues of the exhibition. It is published by the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in association with University of Washington Press.

"Wild By Design" was organized by the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In Rochester, it is underwritten by Lynne Lovejoy. "Reinventing Quilts in a Digital Age" is sponsored in part by the Humanities Project at the University of Rochester, with additional funds from The Gallery Council. "MAGnificent Inspiration" is sponsored by the Gallery Council and underwritten by Carol Crossed and the Gouvernet Arts Fund at The Community Foundation.

CURATORS: "Wild By Design" was curated by Janet Berlo, professor of art history, University of Rochester; Patricia Cox Crews, International Quilt Study Center; and Carolyn Ducey, International Quilt Study Center.

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