Wausau, Wisconsin: Like roadmaps, quilts in an exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum this summer reveal places of origin and paths to understanding America’s cultural fabric. “Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts,” on view June 12 through August 29, features quilts spanning the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries from the collection of the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. Representing a range of materials, motifs, and techniques, the exhibition’s quilts include traditional early American examples and contemporary sculptural assemblages.
A quilt-maker’s textile and design choices offer insights into the topography of the artist’s world and place within it. The motif in Nora McKeown Ezell’s “Star Quilt” evokes the celestial navigation used by slaves on the Underground Railroad. The quilt’s traditional eight-pointed Star of Hope pattern is drawn from the artist’s knowledge of the history of slavery, Reconstruction, and post-Reconstruction in the Jim Crow South.
Woven into quilts are threads of history and makers’ orienteering questions: “Where do I fit into this landscape? Where have I been? Where will I go?” Exhibition quilts incorporate wool from suits and military uniforms, cotton, synthetics, silk velvet, and brocade with embroidery. Infused with memory, quilts map out intimate stories and legacies through a handcrafted language of design.
“Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts” was organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C. Wausau Homes is the presenting sponsor of the summer exhibition; 5 Koshas Yoga and Wellness is the summer sponsor. Additional support comes from Jeff and Lori De Lonay, Gwen Gygi, Linda Kocourek, LeeAnn Podruch and David Johnson, and Ron and Mary Retzke. Exhibitions and programs are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Marketing supported in part by City of Wausau Room Tax funds. Support for hands-on art-making supplies comes from Wilmington Trust and the M&T Charitable Foundation.
“Pacific Quilt,” also on view June 12 – August 29, 2021
On view concurrently – although distinct from “Handstitched Worlds” – is a giant, map-like quilt, created by Sarah FitzSimons, a University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Department faculty artist. Her “Pacific Quilt” features varying shades of blue fabric to convey the Pacific Ocean’s underwater topography and sewn lines depicting surface currents. FitzSimons notes other commonalities: “Both water and fabric flow. Both cover. Both can conceal, reveal, and shift. ‘Pacific Quilt’ proposes a link between our daily cycle of sleeping and waking, with the rise and fall of ocean tides.”
Night Out @ the Woodson, when the Museum stays open until 7:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month, offers opportunities for evening strolls through the galleries and grounds. Those summer evenings on June 3, July 1, and August 5 include Sculpture Garden Yoga, if weather permits these outdoor-only sessions, led by a 5 Koshas Yoga and Wellness instructor, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Please register at www.5koshasyoga.com/yoga/class-schedule/ and plan to bring and wear face coverings as well as bring mats or blankets. Session will be canceled if weather requires; watch the 5 Koshas Facebook page for updates.
Although other programs remain curtailed, a few may be offered, modified as coronavirus precautions warrant, for registered participants. Check www.lywam.org/events-calendar for details, posted online when available.
See what’s new in the re-imagined Art Park interactive gallery, offering drop-in family fun. Explore hands-free, visual engagement opportunities for all ages and I Spy prompts and clues for younger visitors.
• Mini Makes includes new miniature versions of additional galleries, museum experiences, and exhibitions created by the staff’s Wee Build Workshop along with brief videos.
• Makers’ Mediums features studio materials and artists’ tools, celebrating endless art-medium possibilities.
The Museum’s Stop-by Studio, always open for anytime curbside pickup along 12th Street, is stocked with Art Kits and books, free to keep or share, to encourage at-home art making and creativity. Go on a quest, using a Sculpture Seek & Find map with riddles as clues, to find six small-scale sculptures on the Museum’s grounds. Explore online options, too, including videos, activities, and searching collection artwork by artist name, medium, or bird or animal species by checking out the digital resources webpage: https://www.lywam.org/learn-do/digital-resources/
Woodson Art Museum admission is always free and health-conscious measures remain in place: mask wearing, physical distancing, and sanitizing; learn more here. Before visiting, always admission free, please check www.lywam.org for any updates.
Woodson Art Museum Hours
First Thurs of each month 9am–7:30pm
Closed Mon & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas
Admission: Always Free Admission
Location: 700 N. 12th Street (Franklin & 12th Streets), Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007