I spent time over the weekend watching all nine episodes of Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics. Presented by The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc. and Executive Producer and host Shelly Zegart, Why Quilts Matter presents a wonderful overview of quilt culture.
I love the title chosen for the series. Why Quilts Matter says it all. I can think of many other possibilities for naming such a series—”Everything About Quilts”, or “Quilts Then and Now”, or just “Quilts and Quilters”. But they all pale in comparison to Why Quilts Matter, which sums it up perfectly.
So why do quilts matter? Some of the ideas explored that I found most interesting were these:
• How quilts have elevated women’s place in the world
• Why quilts are universally loved as a symbol of warmth and home
• What events brought quilt culture to its present-day status as a $3.6 billion industry (yes, that’s billion with a b)
• How and why quilts are studied; their place in the larger context of American life
• Controversy in the quilt culture: honest examinations of hot topics like Gee’s Bend quilts and the Underground Railroad theory
I came away knowing that absolutely, quilts DO matter!
I’ve been in love with quilting for 30 years and have worked in the industry for the past decade, but realized as I watched that I still didn’t really have a firm grasp on the “big picture”—an understanding of everything that makes up the quilt world.
You and I are often busy being creative in our sewing spaces, but there’s so much more going on. Have you thought about these areas?
• Quilt collectors and dealers; the buying and selling of antique and contemporary quilts by folks whose living is made on quilts
• Quilts and their place in the art world
• Quilt-related businesses producing or selling goods or services: fabric, thread, books, magazines, patterns, notions, sewing machines, quilting machines, software, web design/management, events and many more
And the list goes on and on. It was so interesting to watch this documentary and realize how large the quilt culture has become.
Many wonderful quilts are seen in the documentary and image resource guides are available on the Why Quilts Matter website. The guides give additional information about every image in the series so you can do further research if you like.
Zegart herself is a woman who gets things done in the quilt world. It was fascinating to learn about her 30-year influence and all that she has touched. Read more here.
Because this series is perfect for libraries, universities, museums, guilds, shows and educational institutions, and because they want it to be seen by a broad audience, the makers are granting public performance rights at no additional cost for educational use. Details here. This is a wonderful opportunity not to be missed.
Why Quilts Matter is available to PBS stations through an independent distributor. It will air on some PBS stations through 2014. The producers suggest checking local listings. If you would like to see the series, let your PBS station know. Some airings are listed here.
Individuals can purchase the series on two DVDs for $39.95; quilt guild members can purchase four or more copies for a 40% discount ($23.97) plus shipping. Take advantage of the 40% offer by emailing email@example.com.
Get great ideas on exhibition programming for Why Quilts Matter.
Get great ideas on guild programming for Why Quilts Matter.
See the list of episodes and watch highlights of Why Quilts Matter.
Lots more great resources at whyquiltsmatter.org!
Shelly Zegart has graciously provided a DVD set for giveaway on Quilty Pleasures. To be entered, please leave a comment below by midnight Friday, August 24 answering this question: Why do quilts matter to you?