6000 Shelburne Road
Through October 28
American quilting is an art form often associated with women. This
Shelburne Museum exhibit unravels this association, presenting
viewers with a unique selection of 30 quilts made by men.
Senior Curator Jean Burks was inspired by the discovery of a quilt, made by a Union soldier during the
Civil War, in the museum’s collection of more than 400 American quilts. It was the only piece in the collection
at the time known to have been made by a man. She took that as a jumping off point to stich together her own exploration of the role men
have played in American quilt-making. The result is nothing short of astounding.
“What’s most intriguing is the approach men take,” Burks said. “Men appear to come up with an idea or inspiration and then study
the techniques to execute it. This subject-first approach is in direct contrast to the method used by
women who historically master the requisite sewing, piecing and quilting skills and then select a known pattern to demonstrate their
The exhibit charts men’s quiltmaking through the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, including digital quilts,
motorized quilts, sculptures of quilts, quilts by old men, quilts by young men, subversive quilts — even quilts
made of matchsticks (in a wedding quilt with a twist), soldier’s uniforms and tea bags (in an eco-protest quilt) — all made by men with occupations
ranging from soldier to future president to textile artist.