by Deborah Corsini, Curator
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Founded in 1977, and located in the arts district of downtown San Jose, the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles mission is to showcase and preserve the art, craft, and history of textiles. Nationally recognized and among a handful of institutions in the world that focus on the art and craft of quilts and textiles, the Museum has a rich historical heritage. It offers a sustentative range of exhibitions that draw from the collection, from the national and international textile art movement, and from material cultures around the world. The Museum houses a collection of over 850 quilts and textiles, which are regularly displayed in exhibitions or loaned to other institutions. In addition, the Museum offers a range of educational programs for children and adults, lectures, and workshops that engage the greater San Francisco Bay Area community.
Currently on display is Fiberart International, an internationally renowned exhibition that demonstrates the diversity of fiber techniques and artistic imagination. Legacy transported and delivered this collection to the Museum from Pittsburgh, PA. The works featured show a remarkable variety of technique, material, and subject matter, referencing tradition, but blending it with new textile processes, such as fusing, layering, digital printing, and encaustic. Two very different examples of the work in this show include Disease Mapping by Julie Alijanic, a stunning and large scale paper installation that explores the patterning seen in a field stain of a blood specimen, the artist’s response to cancer, and two pairs of socks knitted from wax and then processed in the lost wax casting technique. These crystal glass socks by Carol Milne definitely stretch the definition of a textile.
Of course, quilt exhibits are always popular and a recent exhibit on loan from a private collection focused on a traditional quilt pattern and its evolution over 100 years. Collecting New York Beauty Quilts: Bill Volckening’s Passion explored the history of a complex and challenging quilt pattern and its continual evolution in the hands of contemporary quilt makers. Still Crazy, drawn from the Museum’s collection looked at the history of crazy quilts, those irregularly pieced, extravagantly embroidered, and embellished quilts that were so popular during the late 19th century. Over thirty quilts from the Museum’s collection were conserved (as needed) and displayed. It was a rich and compelling visual feast.
An upcoming exhibit in 2014 is Metamorphosis: Clothing & Identity that examines the rich history of the art-to-wear movement. Comprised of approximately 60 pieces the exhibit charts the development of the Bay Area Artwear movement starting from the original Levi’s “Denim Art Contest” of 1973 all the way through the works of contemporary designers. Originally denoting handmade textiles from traditional processes, artwear has come to encompass a wide breadth of techniques, including shibori, felting, crochet and knitting, hand painting, clamp resist dyeing, pleating, quilting, and sewing. This exhibit is a part of an ongoing series called Founding Fibers, which surveys the rich and multifaceted San Francisco Bay Area fiber history, its diversity, and its spectacular creative force in the textile field.
For more information: www.sjquiltmuseum.org
Free & Easy, 2011
knitted wax, kiln-cast lead
lost wax casting technique
Disease Mapping, 2012
Recycled copy paper, thread, glue
New York Beauty Quilt, c. 1870
unknown maker, Virginia
72″ x 80″
hand piece and hand quilted
From the Collection of Bill Volckening