To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions celebrates the history and diversity of quilt-making in Native communities and pays tribute to the artists who continue to create within this expressive cultural tradition.
The Stauth Memorial Museum of Montezuma is excited and honored to host this exhibition for a 12-week booking from July 8 through Sept. 30.
"We feel very fortunate to be the only museum in Kansas chosen to host this amazing, historically important, quilt exhibit," Stauth Museum director Kim Legleiter said. "Of the various North American Indian art forms that resulted from contact with Euro-Americans, quilt-making is perhaps the least well known."
Quilt-making in Native communities was first learned through contact with primarily Euro-Americans, who possessed commercially manufactured cloth and steel needles.
Traders, missionaries, government agents and settlers all played roles in introducing quilting fabrics and techniques. It was not surprising that Native peoples — already skilled at similar craft forms such as fabricating tapa cloth and hide garments, and embroidering with porcupine quills and moose hair — became adept at quilting and began to use quilts for purposes unique to their own cultures.
Quilts have been used in nearly every Native community for everyday purposes such as bed coverings, shelter coverings, infant’s swing cradles, weather insulation, and providing a soft place to sit on the ground.
In some communities, quilts play important roles in tribal ceremonies, such as in the honoring of individuals and as fundraisers.
Native quilters get their design ideas from many sources. Some quilters use the design motifs of their specific tribe or clan or use patterns and colors reflecting close spiritual ties to the natural world.
"This exhibit examines how quilts and quilting — the ceremonies surrounding them, the society of the artists who make them, and the passing on of traditions through quilts - bind neighbors and families within and across generations," Legleiter said.
To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions includes 29 quilts from all over the country, including examples by Cherokee, Sioux, Navajo, Ojibway and Native Hawaiian quilters.
Other components of the exhibit include hands-on activities, a listening station where visitors can listen to tape-recorded stories from some of the quilters, videos of quilting activities in two Native communities, and a series of panels with photographs and explanatory text.
Ten Kansas quilts are also on display to enhance the exhibition and to showcase the talent and creativity of Kansas quilters.
Max Jones of Dodge City is displaying two quilts with this exhibit. One is a quilt with cross-stitch blocks featuring all of the State Flowers set in order of their accession to the Union and the other is a photo quilt celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of he and his wife, Judy Jones.
Other southwest Kansas quilters are Eleanor Strecker of Spearville, Wanda Adamson of Jetmore, Alene Fosler of Sublette, Emily Boyd of Kinsley and Eva Lou Koons and Ronda Widener, both from Liberal.
Developed by Michigan State University Museum, To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions is based on an exhibition originally created by Michigan State University Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with Atlatl, Inc., a national service organization for Native American arts, Phoenix, Arizona.
A board of museum specialists working in both Native and non-Native museums across North America were instrumental in helping to design this version specifically created to tour to smaller museums, in particular, tribal museums and cultural centers.
A companion book is also available.
To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions was edited by Marsha MacDowell and C. Kurt Dewhurst and published by the Museum of New Mexico Press in collaboration with Michigan State University Museum.
Founded in 1857, the Michigan State University Museum is one of Michigan's most popular natural and cultural history museums. The Michigan State University Museum’s Traveling Exhibition Service provides affordable exhibitions for museums and organizations both in and out of Michigan.
More than two dozen traveling exhibits are available and represent a variety of Michigan's natural and cultural resources.
The Stauth Museum asks to call in advance for groups of five or more with tours and groups welcome by appointment.
Contact 620-846-2527 for information or to set up a tour.
Hours for the Stauth Museum, 111 N Aztec Street in Montezuma, are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 4:30 p.m.
They are open Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
They are closed on Mondays and all major holidays.
Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted to help pay for the exhibit.
Visit www.stauthmemorialmuseum.org for up-to-date exhibit and museum information.