Plain Geometry: Amish Quilts
The series follows desperados within the Amish community in Lancaster County, Pa., who take the law into their own hands. And no, I ain‚Äôt talking issuing a ticket for a double-parked buggy, brethren.
Imagine a land filled with AK-toting outlaws; underground raves featuring gyrating, plain-dressed harlots; and covert barn fights. Yes, barn fights.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs nothin‚Äô better to do on a Friday night than get punched in the face,‚ÄĚ one cast member says.
Wanting to share in the badassness, perhaps, the Museum of International Folk Art unveils Plain Geometry: Amish Quilts this Sunday, a show that ‚Äúexplores the origins and aesthetics of a tradition that has evolved in a changing world.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúTo tell you the truth, I didn‚Äôt know that much about the Amish before I hung this,‚ÄĚ Bobbi Sumberg, the museum‚Äôs curator of textiles and costume, tells SFR.
She‚Äôs standing inside the Lloyd Cotsen gallery, where the exhibition is half-hung. ‚ÄúThe gallery was designed to create these view pathways,‚ÄĚ Sumberg says of the concentric layout.
She‚Äôs surrounded by the usual accoutrements‚ÄĒladders, hammers, blank reader rails and, in this particular case, a handheld garment steamer.
In preparing for the exhibit, Sumberg says she read and researched the traditionalist culture as much as she could. ‚ÄúI tend to think about the Amish as The Amish, when in reality there‚Äôs been a lot of splintering, a lot of different congregations with very subtle differences in what they believe‚ÄĒand therefore, they‚Äôre not these Amish; they are these Amish.‚ÄĚ
These differences are evident in their craft as well, as the 34 quilts that compose the show run the gamut from the more traditional pieces, wherein their makers resorted to intricate needle work‚ÄĒcomplex swirls and grids‚ÄĒto create their own patterns, to the inclusion of once-forbidden pastel colors and print fabrics.
Quilt-making, Sumberg notes, was uncommon in Amish communities until the late 19th century. Before then, they used feather-filled duvets and woven blankets, in keeping with Germanic tradition.
Featuring antique diamond squares and log-cabin quilts as well was more colorful examples from as recently as 1991, some of the works in this exhibit are so captivating that they entrance the viewer with a quasi Magic Eye 3D picture effect.
‚ÄúThe specificity which people live with,‚ÄĚ Sumberg says, was one of the most eye-opening surprises in preparing for Plain Geometry.
‚ÄúThis one group, although there‚Äôs no written rule, they would never use yellow,‚ÄĚ she says.
The curator hopes visitors will take away more than geometric eye candy.
‚ÄúI hope that people will come and go, ‚ÄėOh, I didn‚Äôt know how specific the communities are,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Sumberg says, adding that the show is 100 percent secular. ‚ÄúI give just a little bit of information about the religion, because really, the show is not about religion, it‚Äôs about quilts.‚ÄĚ (Enrique Lim√≥n)
Where: Museum of International Folk Art
Address: 706 Camino Lejo