Exhibition Story

The humble quilt is not the first thing that comes to mind when contemplating a collaboration between an organization with fine arts in its name and another known typically as the Archives. But it was in this common utilitarian object, layers of fabric stitched together over batting, that we found opportunity to explore a rich combination of tradition, creativity, and story in our collections. 

After studying quilts for any amount of time, one learns that most are are not so humble after all, but instead intricately crafted representations of the world of the quilter, or reflections of what is seen in the mind's eye. The skill demonstrated in design and in stitching may be the result of thousands of hours of experience and generations of influence within distinctive communities. 

One can also come to see the documentary value of these beautiful pieces, where evidence of lifestyle, economic standing, kinship, and purpose can be found--- if the viewer knows how to read them. The goal of this exhibition project and this website is to give the public a sense of the relationship among quilts produced in different eras in the state of Alabama--- to showcase the continuity of the traditions of quilting dating back into the nineteenth century, as well as highlighting the way in which twentieth-century examples reflect the dynamism and design tastes of a modern society and popular culture. 

We are grateful to the curators of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Margaret Lynne Ausfeld and Ryan Blocker, respectively, for conceptualizing this exhibition using objects in their care. The physical exhibition will allow access to fragile textiles that are rarely exhibited, while this interactive website designed by Raven Christopher and Georgia Ann Hudson will give an ongoing digital, online presence to the show for years to come. We offer a special thanks to the Alabama State Council on the Arts for the contribution of funds for this project that celebrates the bicentennial of the state of Alabama. 

Sewn Together forms a conceptual bridge for students of history and those with a passion for art, and references distinctive periods of the past connected by tradition, by craft, and by an eye for the beauty to be found in objects that warm the body as well as the soul. We hope that you will enjoy Sewn Together as much as we enjoyed seeing this partnership take shape. 

Steve Murray

Director
Alabama Department of Archives and History 

Mark Johnson

Director

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

acknowledgements

The completion of the exhibition and interactive website for Sewn Together would not have been possible without the hard work and generous assistance of many people both inside and outside of our institutions.

The Alabama State Council on the Arts provided a grant for the exhibition publication and as part of the programming celebrating the bicentennial of the state of Alabama (2017-2019). The Council's mission is to enhance the quality of life and economic viability for all Alabamians by providing support for the state's diverse and rich artistic resources. We are grateful that this project was approved for this critical funding. 

Foremost, we thank Steve Murray and Mark Johnson, directors of Alabama Department of Archives and History and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, respectively, for encouraging this collaboration. Raven Christopher and Georgia Ann Hudson of the Archives staff brought the exhibition into the digital age with the creation of this website component, sewntogetheralabama.org. Kevin Nutt provided his musical knowledge in order to curate the website's accompanying audio component. The Archives' Keri Hallford, Sherrie Hamil, Sarah McQueen, and Graham Neeley assisted with research and exhibit preparation. At the MMFA, registrars Pamela Bransford and Sarah Elizabeth Kelly, preparators Jeff Dutton and Brad Echols, and collections information specialist Sarah Graves were instrumental in producing the quilt exhibition and its graphic components. 

We give our special thanks to Mary Elizabeth Johnson Huff for sharing her vast knowledge of Alabama quilts and quilting traditions. 

Without the quilt makers, quilt owners, and collectors, as well as the donors to our institutions, this collaboration would not have been possible. Collectively they have created, treasured, and preserved an amazing Alabama visual arts heritage. To them, we extend our sincerest thanks and gratitude. 

Ryan Blocker

Curator

Alabama Department of Archives and History 

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld

Curator

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts