Quilt Journeys: Pattern Exhibit


Ryan Clayton

“Drunkard’s Path, n.d.” Gift of J.I. Staley, March 25.

Quilts tell a story, and the Wichita Falls Museum of Art is sharing its own stories through the Quilt Journeys: Pattern exhibit. 

“This exhibit appeals to people familiar with quilting but also introduces the important history of quilting to those who are unfamiliar with quilting’s role in American history. Created out of necessity, quilts provided protection for the family from the cold. Later, the quilts would be passed from family member to family member creating a legacy. Finally, quilts enter museums as art objects. The quilts in this exhibit made that journey,” Danny Bills, WFMA curator, said.

In the past, the WFMA has had quilt exhibits, but what makes this one different is the focus on patterns. The quilts on exhibit have patterns such as the Lemoyne star and the drunkard’s path.

“Birds in the Air, n.d.” Gift of J.I. Staley, March 25. (Ryan Clayton. )

“This is a quilt exhibit curated from the WFMA Permanent Collection and this particular quilt exhibit focuses on pattern. Quilting has a rich history of various patterns that evolve and change names based on region and the passage of time. Quilt Journeys: Pattern creates a window into that with some specific patterns illustrated in our quilts. We hope to do future exhibits with quilts based on collaboration and stories,” Bills said.

The focus on patterns is also a way for the exhibit to appeal to all because patterns can be seen beyond art. 

“Previously, we would exhibit the quilts from the collection as a whole with descriptive labels. This exhibit has that text but also incorporates educational material and a way for viewers to share their own quilt story if they want. We also chose to focus on particular quilts with key patterns. Quilt patterns are mathematical as well as artistic, and we wanted to open the door to interest beyond quilting,” Bills said.

As part of women’s history month, MOSAIC hosted Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced, a series of events held throughout March by different organizations. WFMA participated in this event and held Quilt Journeys: Motherhood and the College Experience. A discussion panel with MSU students that are mothers as well. 

Markley Texas Quilting Group “Squares with Cardinal Applique, 1937” Gift of Frances Brewer in memory of Attie Louise Wilson, March 25. (Ryan Clayton)

“The exhibit’s themes served as part metaphor for the experience of juggling motherhood, school, and work. Women throughout time have used squares and triangles to build patterns to create quilts to care for their families,” Tracee Robertson, director of Wichita Falls Museum of Art, said. “A quilt is made from pieces brought together out of necessity but also with creativity, much like the pieces of our lives contributing to the whole story of who we are.”

The panel consisted of topics about generational change, imposter syndrome, mom guilt, balance and time management, non-traditional students and accessibility and outreach at MSU.

“It’s difficult being a mom in school. You really have to learn balance, you’ve got your studies and…there’s a plethora of things that as moms that we have to do every day,” April Kaufman, sociology senior, said. “Being a college student you do learn how to manage your time and how to put what’s important first and then prioritize from there. So I think being a mother with that has really helped me to develop in a way that has taught me to prioritize my life in a way that my kids come first but school comes second right now. It can be difficult.” 

“Grandmother’s Flower Garden, Variation, n.d.” Gift of J.I. Staley, March 25. (Ryan Clayton)

The event gave a voice to students that attend university while parenting and at times working too.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to discuss this with [the panelist and attendees]. For people to actually hear what it’s like because we are almost invisible on campus,” Brittany Roberts, sociology sophomore, said. 

The exhibit will be open until July 24, 2021.