“Quilting Through the Years: Past and Present” is the October exhibition at the Lee Dam Center for Fine Art, Marysville. The exhibit opens Thursday, October 6, and runs through Sunday, October 30.
Members of the Country Quilt Divas Quilt Guild of Marshall County will display their quilts; also on exhibition will be quilts from the Marshall County Historical Society’s permanent collection.
The art center is open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Sundays. The art center has extended its hours on Thursdays in conjunction with local Soup Days.
A reception to meet the quilters will be Monday, October 10, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served; the public is invited.
The members of the quilt guild are providing the quilts from the present. To contrast, the historical society is providing quilts from the past so viewers may see the changes in quilting over time.
“Quilting has changed over the years,” said Marilyn Newstrom, a member of the guild. “Quilts used to be backed with muslin, but now they’re backed with bright colors.”
According to Newstrom, not only have the backing colors changed, so have the backing fabrics.
“Frankly, we aren’t as frugal with the backing as our ancestors used to be,” she explained. “Now the back of the quilt can almost be as pretty as the front.”
Styles have changed, too. Once, quilting blocks were embroidered; today, many quilters don’t take the time to embroider each block.
Growing up in rural Bremen, Newstrom watched her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother quilt.
“I’ve always been exposed to it,” she said.
Newstrom, however, didn’t start quilting until five years ago when she moved back to Marshall County from living on the east coast.
Upon her return, a friend encouraged her to join the Country Quilt Divas.
Having spent many years sewing clothes, Newstrom wasn’t intimidated by quilting.
“I knew joining the Country Quilt Divas would be a good place to start because I would learn the tools of the trade and get new ideas,” she said.
The group meets monthly; membership is open to both quilters and non-quilters.
“Sometimes we have people come who appreciate quilts, but don’t quilt,” she said. “It’s a community thing. There’s a social aspect to our group.”
The monthly meetings, held the second Monday of the month at the art center, are a time for members to see what others have done – a show-and-tell, of sorts.
“It’s a time to get inspired by what others have done,” Newstrom said.
To compliment the contemporary quilts, a collection of historic quilts housed at the Marshall County Courthouse Museum will be on exhibit, too.
The quilt display in the courthouse museum is located on the second floor of the building. This makes it inaccessible for those who cannot climb the stairs. Members of the museum’s exhibit committee wanted a way for the public to view the quilts in a handicap-accessible setting. Teaming with the Country Quilt Divas made for a perfect pairing.
“Marshall County Historical Society has some beautiful old quilts to exhibit at this quilt show,” said Sharon Vogelsburg, president of the society. “We are so excited for them to be part of this show at the art center. Being able to team up with the Country Quilt Divas will make the exhibit bigger and better, too.”
Although the quilting styles have changed over the years, one thing remains the same – the social aspect of quilting. Whether at a quilting bee or at a meeting of the local guild, socializing and quilting have gone hand-in-hand.
When talking about quilting, Newstrom’s sentiment is clear.
“I just enjoy it,” she said. “I do it for enjoyment and for fun.”
Some of the quilt divas will have items for sale on a silent auction.
The art center is closed October 8 and 9 for private events.
For more information about the exhibition people may call 785-859-4260.