‘Food for Thought’ opens at The National Quilt Museum

Cherry Pie by Zelda Newman, Source: The National Quilt Museum
Cherry Pie by Zelda Newman, Source: The National Quilt Museum

Cherry pie so realistic you could just stick a fork in it, heirloom tomatoes that look like the juices would flow right out if you bit into them and reminders that in a country of abundance, there are still many who go hungry. That’s just a few scenes depicted “Food for Thought” an exhibit that opened Friday at The National Quilt Museum on Paducah, Kentucky.

The traveling exhibit was curated by the Studio Art Quilt Association, SAQA, which promotes art quilting, and The National Quilt Museum was chosen as the location for its debut. Judy Schwender, curator at The National Quilt Museum, has worked with SAQA in the past to bring in traveling exhibits and was excited to debut the new collection at the museum.

“These are definitely innovative quilts,” Schwender said. “Overall the quality is so good and the innovation is evident. It is just amazing what they send us.”

Foodscapes have been the focus of artists for hundreds of years, with artists recreating bright colorful fruits, the realities of processed food and the memories we have made surrounding meals in sculpture, printmaking, oil paint and other more accepted mediums of fine art.

“This is one way that we can help the public understand that quilting is an art medium.” Schwender said. “Quilting needs to be considered right with the other fine art mediums, and I think this exhibit will help do that.”

"Vege Peels Circling the Drain" by Judy Ross, Source: The National Quilting Museum
“Vege Peels Circling the Drain” by Judy Ross, Source: The National Quilt Museum

Schwender describes the quilts as “luscious” making her want to go to the grocery store and purchase the ingredients to make all the tasty foods depicted in the 34 quilts that make up “Food for Thought.” But not all the quilts celebrate eating. Some highlight the reality of hunger in the United States and abroad. One such quilt is “Vege Peels Circling the Drain” by Judy Ross, depicting leftovers that are thrown out in the process of preparing food.

“When people look at a work of art, I think of them as transformative,” Schwender said. “You look at something that maybe you’re familiar with, but they make you look at it in a different way. When I look at ‘Vege Peels’ I think how much food we throw away in the United States and some people go hungry.”

The majority of the quilts are 24 to 46 inches high. They are not bed quilts and are intended to hang on the wall as art, and all but two of them are for sale. Many of the quilt makers earn their living selling quilts the create to art collectors.

“Food for Thought will be on display at The National Quilt Museum through July 8, 2015. Click here to visit the website for more information.

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