Textile Arts Council Lecture: The California Art Quilt Revolution

Quilt with abstract design

Linda McDonald, Clear Palisades (detail), 1987. Cotton, hand dyed, hand pieced and quilted, 92 x 92 in.

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This presentation will trace the development of the art quilt in California, from the late 1960s through today, and reflect on the future of the art form.

The American studio art quilt movement that emerged in the last quarter of the 20th century had its primary origins in California and Ohio, and to a lesser degree, Massachusetts. The decades leading up to the emergence of art quilts in the 1960s portray a complex picture involving the intersection of art, craft, universities, and the traditional American quilt. Three national cultural developments resulted in the reevaluation of quilts as a suitable art medium and increased artists’ awareness of quilts: the art museum’s legitimization of the quilt as art, the junction of art and craft at the university level, and social, political, and fashion trends that brought quilts to national prominence. Compelling personal motivations also played a significant role in an individual’s choice to combine art practice with quilt making.

Examples of the artists’ work reflect the dual heritage of quilt and art history, one that blends quilt making techniques and implicit historic cultural associations with principles of contemporary art. 

About the speaker

Nancy Bavor holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from Northwestern University and a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in the history of textiles with an emphasis in quilt studies. Her master’s thesis explores the origins and development of the art quilt in California. In 2018, she co-authored the book Art Quilts Unfolding: 50 Years of Innovation and co-curated the accompanying exhibition Layered and Stitched: 50 Years of Innovative Art. Bavor has served on the boards of Studio Art Quilt Associates and the Quilt Alliance and currently serves on the board of the American Quilt Study Group and the advisory board of the International Quilt Museum. She is director emerita of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.

Ticket info

This event is happening both in person and online via Zoom.

  • In person: Koret Auditorium, de Young ($5 at the door)
  • Online: register to attend ($5 for FAMSF members and students, $10 general admission).

Contact info 

Textile Arts Council

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