Saturday, October 06, 2012

African American Quilts at Bellevue Art Museum

I went with friend Leslie today to see several exhibits at the Bellevue Art Museum today.  One was Shaker furniture and other practical crafts  The main one we went to see was  samples of the African American Quilt collection of Corrine Riley.  This collection includes pieces made between 1910 and 1970s.  They had all been used, many quite a bit.  Most of these quilts were created in Alabama and Texas but also from other states. 

Europeans brought the quilting tradition to the US.  The European-descended quilters in the Eastern and Mid-western US used more subdued coloring.  In contrast, the African American quilters mainly in the South used simple, bold, geometric compositions, often asymmetric with quite intense colors.  Everything was hand sewn.  Materials were often old jeans, clothing too old to patch any more, flour sacks, and fabric remnants. 

Quilting has become more popular again in the US, but most people use machines to make quilts nowadays. 

My interest in quilts grew after reading Jennifer Chiaverini's novels in the Elm Creek Quilt series.  See:  I was particularly fascinated  in these books by the  use of quilts  by the Underground Railroad to help move slaves to Canada.

I took a lot of photos with my IPhone.  I hope you enjoy them.
 Rectangular and  blocks were quite common.  The quilt stitching in each block holds the front and back (and often the filling) together.
This quilt was high up on the wall, hence the weird angle of the photo.  I really liked the horizontal lines on the left and the vertical ones in the center and right.....also, the black sections juxtaposed against the pink.

This one was beautiful.  The red ties in each square went through all the fabric and held the material together.

  The red was not mounted on top of the beige/brown horizontal stripes but sewn together with it.  The bold stripes in the red came from a patterned cloth. (see below).  Note the hand stitching below, close together to hold the stuffing in the quilt.
It was amazing to realize that the quilt above was all done by hand, with the circles, arcs, triangles, and rectangles, which fit together so well. Some of the blues are from denim jeans. 
Multilayered close up of  Pine burr quilt below...
Pine Burr Quilt

Denim quilt
Well used material--can even see patch on it and little red spots too.  The white threads go through multi-layers and hold the quilt together.
Bold, strong quilt!  It would have been pretty amazing to have on my bed!

Quite symmetrical, with very bold colors!
Close up of the quilt above.  Look at all the stitching around each diamond!

Close-up of tulip quilt, with lots of tulips

Beige in the center was a strong focal point, and brightened the whole quilt.

Note stitching in close up of quilt above.

What do you see in the quilt below?
Close up of above quilt with red stitches

Egg Timer Quilt

And as we walked out, I saw the following chair structure below us:
 Yes, they were normal sized chairs!

And in the gift shop, a funny but practical item!  Yes, it is a binky/מוצץ

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Athabascan Village Model and Fairbanks Cultural Center

The highlight of the Riverboat Discovery Tour out of Fairbanks was the visit to a model of an Athabascan native village.  The teens and young adults working at the center were all natives, most local, so it was a good place of employment for them.

Marty, Marsha, and I left the boat but Howard decided to stay and come off a bit later.  He is the guy in the maroon shirt and khaki's in the top center of the photo.
But first, f
rom the boat, we learned about how the natives (mostly Athabascans) caught fish during the salmon runs, and how they dried them.
This rotating machine by shore often was used to catch salmon when then ran at the height of the season. 

Temporary salmon camp with drying racks on left and inside sheds behind
Salmon were then filleted and then sliced in a special way to enhance drying
Freshly sliced on left and dried on right
Temporary camp site during salmon harvest
Inside drying shed on left
hundreds of pounds of salmon were dried this way.

We got off the boat at the Athabascan "village."  Marsha, Marty and I were in a group with a young woman who was Navaho. She moved to Alaska as a young teenager with her mom and step-father.  Navaho and Athabascan are "cousins" and their languages are similar.   She was valedictorian of her high school class an dis now studying fire science and forestry (I think) at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, nearby.

The above is an example of a more permanent home.  Notice the grass growing on the roof.
Grass on roof
It added insulation and served as food for animals too, I believe.
Marsha is pointing out the way the leaks were sealed off between the logs.

Sleeping aea
A Moose
We never did see a real moose, bu this was a life sized looking one-of course it never moved.  You can see how tall it is by seeing the roof of the house to the right.

There were caribou around that we had seen from the ship.  They are definitely smaller and have a more shapely face/head.
More temporary housing--covered by caribou skins
When animals were hunted, the natives made use of all of the body--food food, clothing, etc.
A boat and leantos
Baby carrier
A number of animals were hunted. 
Pelts including wolf (left) and foxes (right)
Beaver pelts
Caribou, Moose and ? skins drying
The skins have to be pounded, washed, and stretched until they are soft enough to use for clothing, etc.
You can see some of the beautiful clothing that is made.

One woman beader in the community was very famous and has items on exhibit at the Smithsonian History Museum in Washington, DC.  The designed on the clothing represent stories in different groups of native peoples.
Beaded jacket
Moccasins and ceremonial object
Beaded dress
Warm Coat

Amazingly beautiful (and warm) coat
Back of coat
 For more on the Athabascan culture, check out these websites:   (short) (much more detail)

After dinner at a Thai restaurant, we visited the Fairbanks Visitor and Cultural Center.
Highlights included an amazing arch made up of dozens of antlers:

Marty & Marsha under the arch
Mostly Moose Antlers and me

Gould cabin, built before 1910

This cabin is one of the few from the early days of Fairbanks that is on its original site.  It was small so that the husband didn't have to collect too much firewood.  The wife cooked on a wood stove and hauled water by the bucket to the home.  It was built very close to neighboring cabins but now is right next to the Visitors' Center.

There was a great description of the natives' fish camp. 

There was a wonderful video showing the area at different seasons during the year. 

There was information on the Murie's, Olaus and Margaret, who helped develop the concept of wilderness in Alaska. 

I especially liked the poster below!

And some amazing art work on hides:

The picture above was taken just before 1 a.m. from or hotel room.   It never really got dark out....just like dusk.  And sunrise was less than 3 hours later.

So our Alaska adventure came to a close.  The next day we were up at 5 to head to the airport at 6 for our early morning flight.  I hope you have enjoyed the blog.  At least for me, it will help to keep the memories alive.

Canadian MT from plane on our flight home