What the Quilt Knows About Me

American Folk Art Museum

American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, New York, NY 10023



Event Dates

Mar 17, 2023

Mar 24, 2023

Mar 31, 2023

Apr 07, 2023

Apr 14, 2023

Apr 21, 2023

Apr 28, 2023

May 05, 2023

May 12, 2023

May 19, 2023

May 26, 2023


On Display Through May 27, 2023

American Folk Art Museum

Featuring approximately 40 quilts and related works of art, the exhibition will explore the deeply personal and emotional power associated with the experience of making and living with quilts. The exhibition’s title conveys the idea that quilts have the capacity for “knowing” or containing information about the human experience. Reflecting on this sentiment, the exhibition presents quilts as collections of intimate stories. 

Spanning from the 19th through 21st centuries, the works on view will reveal a range of poignant and sometimes unexpected biographies. From a pair of enslaved sisters in antebellum Kentucky to a convalescent British soldier during the Crimean War, the exhibition explores stories associated with both the makers and recipients of the works. On a quilt top from the 1890s, we find a surface bursting with narratives; in an example by Hystercine Rankin, a grid of small vignettes depicts scenes of family life defined by faith and toil.  

The exhibition also explores how artists have continually drawn inspiration from and pushed the boundaries of quilt-making to incorporate surprising materials and ideas, inviting audiences to consider these objects as archives of personal human experiences. Dindga McCannon’s Mary Lou Williams, a quilt-like work, is created with paint, photographs, and fibers, as a tribute to the jazz musician and cultural environment of Harlem. Jessie Dunahoo uses plastic bags and yarn to evoke quilt-like coverings that swath the interior surfaces of his home.