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Indianapolis Museum of Art celebrates Hoosier quilt maker in new Bicentennial exhibition
Marie Webster (American, 1859–1956), Sunflower (quilt), 1917, linen, cotton, 88-1/2 x 81 in. Webster Collection, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Gerrish Thurber, 79.101 © Marie Daugherty Webster.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- The Indianapolis Museum of Art continues its celebration of Indiana’s Bicentennial this week with A Joy Forever: Marie Webster Quilts, which opened March 4 in the Gerald and Dorit Paul Galleries.

The exhibition features 25 appliqued quilts by Marie Webster, an Indiana native who rose to national fame in the early 20th century. Webster was discovered in 1911 when Ladies’ Home Journal, one of the most widely circulated magazines in the country during the period, included four of her quilts in full color for the first time. The exposure propelled the relatively unknown, amateur quilt maker from Marion, Ind. into the national spotlight.

Also on display in the exhibition are some of Webster’s patterns, original pages from Ladies’ Home Journal and a digital version of Webster’s scrapbook, which invites guests to browse through Webster’s fan letters, news clippings and other memorabilia.

Webster had a major impact on the quilt revival of the early 1900s. Her home in Marion, Ind. is now a National Historic Landmark and home of The Quilters Hall of Fame. Her landmark book, Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them, continues to serve as popular reference in the field.

“We are truly excited to celebrate the accomplishments of this extraordinary Indiana native who was in many ways responsible for the revival of quilt making in the early decades of the 20th century,” said Niloo Paydar, the IMA’s curator of Textile and Fashion Arts. “An acclaimed quilt designer, author and entrepreneur, Marie Webster charted a new path for the art form and inspired women to create beautiful objects to be enjoyed by many generations to come.”

Webster was heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and her quilts reflect her devotion to simplicity of pattern, quality of craftsmanship, attention to detail and the integration of art into everyday life.

Exhibition highlights include:

· Iris (1910), one of the first quilts to appear in Ladies’ Home Journal. The innovative arrangement of iris flowers in this quilt is evidence of Webster’s knowledge and mastery of design.

· Poppy (1909) displays beautifully appliqued poppy flowers that provide viewers with a sense of Webster’s precision and attention to detail.

· Sunflower (1917) showcases very realistic, bold sunflowers in vivid colors, demonstrating Webster’s intricate stitchery.

A Joy Forever runs through Jan. 8, 2017. In addition to displaying Webster’s quilts, the IMA will showcase contemporary quilts in a special, juried exhibition with Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) titled Dialogues: Contemporary Responses to Marie Webster Quilts. SAQA artists were invited to submit contemporary works for the exhibition that responded to Marie Webster’s quilts. Winning quilts will be displayed in the IMA’s Bret Waller Gallery from June 24 to Sept. 4, 2016.

The Museum will continue to offer Bicentennial-themed exhibitions and programs throughout the year. Upcoming experiences include 19 Stars of Indiana Art: A Bicentennial Celebration and IMA Mini Golf, an artist-designed course featuring Hoosier-inspired holes. Both installations open in May.

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