A variety of new quilt-related books have recently come my way. One of the most interesting titles in a long while, and one of my favorites ever, is Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950–2000 by Roderick Kiracofe.
I’ve had it for several months already because each time I start to write about it, I don’t know where to begin.
I love everything about it.
These quilts are unexpected. They’re what you might think of as a little “off.” Some of them are wonky and wild.
But they’re quilts made by real people who seemed to be concerned only with making a quilt. They weren’t thinking “Does this purple go with this green?” or “Are these borders too narrow?” They were just making a quilt with the materials they had.
In Kiracofe’s own words, “The book includes 150 extraordinary, eccentric, and soulful quilts from my personal collection that feel refreshingly modern. In a much freer, more casual and utilitarian aesthetic than their traditionally patterned counterparts, these quilts still demonstrate their place in modern and contemporary art in America.”
In addition to dozens of large color photos of the quilts, the book includes essays by many well-known experts including curators, historians and artists. Some of the essays are academic and some are written from the heart—there’s a nice variety.
I especially love the idea that these were quilts “below the radar.” That’s how I hope my quilts will be viewed some day. They aren’t going to win any prizes, but hopefully they’ll win somebody’s heart.
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From the book jacket:
Roderick Kiracofe is the author of a variety of books on quilts, including The American Quilt, originally published in 1993 and now considered a classic. In 1983, he co-founded The Quilt Digest, an annual publication that brought together the antique and contemporary quilt worlds for the first time. He has been actively involved in the creation of some of this country’s most important private and corporate quilt collections, including those of Bank of America and Levi Strauss & Co. As a curator and art collector, Kiracofe has mounted exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad, lectured, and consulted with museums. He was also instrumental in the creation of the renowned Oakland (CA) Arts District and serves on the board of Oakland Art Murmur. Visit his website at roderickkiracofe.com.