Quilts subject of Lightner Museum exhibit


The Lightner Museum will exhibit “Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts” from Oct. 7 through Jan. 20.

An American pastime, quilting was a hobby promoted by museum founder Otto Lightner in his magazine Hobbies. Writing in the 1940s about his plans for his St. Augustine museum, Lightner envisioned the building “decorated with museum material such as historical quilts, fine needle work, and rich fabrics.”

Like many objects rooted in the everyday, quilts have the capacity to communicate stories about the context in which they were made and used. They represent maps of the quilters’ lives — living records of cultural traditions, rites of passage, relationships, political and spiritual beliefs, landmark events and future aspirations. As a map is a pocket-sized abstraction of the world beyond what can be seen, a quilt maker’s choice of fabric and design reveals insights into the topography of her world and place within it.

“Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts” invites viewers to read quilts as maps, tracing the paths of individual stories and experiences that illuminate larger historic events and cultural trends.

Spanning the 19th, 20th and first decades of the 21st century, the exhibition brings together 18 quilts from the collection of the American Folk Art Museum, New York, representing a range of materials, motifs, and techniques — from traditional, early-American quilts to more contemporary sculptural assemblage.

The quilts in “Handstitched Worlds” reveal how this often overlooked medium balances creativity with tradition, individuality with the spirit of the times. 

The exhibition will kick off with a free community open house at the Lightner Museum from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7.

“Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts” is presented at the Lightner by the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. Additional support comes from the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The exhibition was organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York, and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1948 by Chicago publisher, collector, and professional hobbyist Otto C. Lightner, the museum offers an immersive experience of art, architecture, history and design. At the heart of the museum’s offerings are its compelling collections, including lamps by Tiffany, geological samples from around the world, porcelain produced at Sèvres and Victorian mechanical musical instruments.

The museum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 75 King St., St. Augustine. For further information, go to lightnermuseum.org or call 904-824-2874.

For information about the American Folk Art Museum, go to folkartmuseum.org. For information about International Arts & Artists, go to artsandartists.org.