On a rainy day in the Twin Cities, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (known as the MIA) makes for a terrific outing. With my sister, who was visiting from her home in The Netherlands, we headed out to see the permanent exhibit. While we were at the MIA we took in the special showing of Matisse works (more on that in another post), and caught snippets of the Art in Bloom installation that was just opening that day.
The MIA has several interesting pieces of textile art, including a spectacular quilt called the Princess Feather Quilt. Made in 1830 by quilter Elizabeth Alexander, this stunning quilt features piecing, appliqué, and incredibly fine quilting. My quickly snapped photos do not do it justice! I am glad that the grandchildren of the quilter chose to share with the museum.
The pattern for a Princess Feather Quilt has many variations, and Pinterest has tons of great examples. This particular quilt was made before the boom in Baltimore Album quilts, but shows many of the same techniques. While I do not know how old Ms. Alexander was when she created this quilt, I do know that most of the non-utility quilts made in the mid 1800’s were stitched by women in their early 20’s, perhaps as a show of their artistic and domestic skills. Like many quilts in today’s modern quilt movement, this quilt features large areas of “white space” and very close quilting.
There were many other great textile pieces to see throughout the day, but I was particularly drawn to these two pieces of Native American clothing. The man’s red shirt is bead, hide, and ribbon work on wool, from the Great Plains region in late 1800’s. The blue pieces is a Lakota woman’s garment from the same era, and the weaving includes symbols of the creation story, with the blue field showing sky and water. The dress features cotton and leather, with glass and copper beads and bells.
If you have a chance to visit the MIA, I hope you will do so. I go as often as I can, and enjoy the jade exhibit, the Burmese house, amazing paintings from all eras, and a whole lot more. During our visit the crowd that filled the museum was huge. The Art in Bloom exhibit, scattered throughout the museum, meant that hundreds of people were listening to guides discuss the art and flowers. Local flower shops and individuals create floral arrangement using a chosen piece of art for inspiration. With about 150 different arrangements, some were very abstract, others nearly mimicked the art.