American History as Seen Through Quilts

Catherine Paul, her husband William, four sons, and William’s widowed mom moved to Solon in 1812 from Greenwich, Massachusetts. Catherine Paul embroidered this quilt with family images and the tower of Solon’s town meeting house. This quilt is part of the new exhibition opening in Boston in October. It includes 58 quilts, bedcovers, and other textiles that span 400 years of U.S. History. These include masterpieces created by African American artisans living in the rural South, tributes paid to Civil War soldiers, the transcontinental railway, and contemporary works that challenge both aesthetic and political boundaries. Quilts, which are often made from scraps of fabric and sewn together, have been a popular way to represent the diversity of our vast nation. Jennifer Swope, curator of the exhibition, says that quilts can tell many other stories about community and culture. She says that quilts “bear testimony.”

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