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Soft Voices: Textiles and Memory

Collection Spotlight

January 20, 2018 Through April 15, 2018
In the Hinchliff Reception Hall

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Unknown (American), Quilt with tumbling blocks pattern, ca. 1845-1885
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea

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Michelle Grabner (American, 1962- ), Untitled (detail), 2016
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea

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Unknown Maker, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), Shoulder bag; Bandolier bag, ca. 1900
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea

mh_sk_2006_1110_inv_v3_01-975-850.jpg

Quilt with tumbling blocks pattern, ca. 1845-1885

Maker unknown (American)
Silk, satin, and velvet
SK 2006.1110.INV

Unknown (American), Quilt with tumbling blocks pattern, ca. 1845-1885

mh_2017_13_v1_01-975-850.jpg

Untitled (detail), 2016

Michelle Grabner (American, 1962- )
Bronze; edition 1/1
2017.13

Michelle Grabner (American, 1962- ), Untitled (detail), 2016

mh_sk_k_61_v1_01_975-850.jpg

Shoulder bag; Bandolier bag (detail), ca. 1900

Maker unknown, Ashinaabe (Ojibwe)
Cloth and glass beads
SK K.61

Unknown Maker, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), Shoulder bag; Bandolier bag, ca. 1900

This collection spotlight puts two very different objects in conversation: an optically dazzling 19th-century quilt with the tumbling blocks pattern and artist Michelle Grabner’s 2016 untitled bronze sculpture of a crocheted blanket. Voices, stories, and photographs may fade or disappear with time, yet through these works, tangible and deeply personal objects persist as a mode of communication and connection across generations. Just as quilts transform old clothing into works of art, Grabner’s sculpture gives new life and meaning to a worn out blanket.

A related object is featured in the current Joseph Allen Skinner Museum Spotlight. A ca. 1900 Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) shoulder bag, typically worn by men but made by women, speaks to cultural contact between Native America and Franco-Europeans and adds to broader Museum conversations about the artisans and contexts of textile arts.

Curated by Cassie Peltier ’18

This collection spotlight is made possible by a grant from The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation and the gifts of individual donors in support of Mount Holyoke College Art Museum's Diverse Voices Initiative.