March 2, 2010
Last change to see stars at CW's folk art museum
Museum guests looking for a heavenly experience have until May to see stars at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. The stars are contained in an exhibition of 19th- and 20th-century American bedcovers that display various star shapes and demonstrate a fascinating variety of techniques used to construct the bedcoverings.
“The radiating star figure is a centuries-old – even ancient – design motif found in many cultures that often assumed symbolic meanings in reference to heavenly bodies, religious beliefs and patriotic themes,” said Linda Baumgarten, Colonial Williamsburg’s curator of textiles. Ranging from a bold, oversized Star of Bethlehem that visually dominates a quilt to a subtle star motif stitched into the center of a quilt, the exhibition encourages the guest to compare different ways of designing or constructing a decorative textile using a simple geometric figure as the basis.
“The attractive, symmetrical shape of the star—whether constructed of five points or a multitude of points—was also especially well suited to the piecing process used to make quilts,” Baumgarten said. Piecing is one of an array of techniques displayed, including whole-cloth quilting, jacquard coverlet weaving and stenciling.
By the 19th century, the meaning of star had evolved to include someone celebrated or distinguished in the arts or a profession. “The star patterns in this exhibition required great skill to cut and piece precisely, and imagination in manipulating colors,” said Kim Ivey, associate curator of textiles, who, with Baumgarten, served as curators of the exhibition. “All of the artifacts are beautifully designed, and all are distinguished examples of their medium. They are ‘stars’ in their own right.”
“Seeing Stars in American Bedcovers” will be on view in the Foster and Muriel McCarl Gallery through Sunday, May 16. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket, annual museums pass or Good Neighbor card.