Berea College Library Offering Historical Look at the Art of Quilting
Just in time for cooler weather, Berea College’s Hutchins Library is offering the public an opportunity to learn more about the art of quilting during their “Friday Finds” tours.
Every Friday through Oct. 28, Berea College Special Collections and Archives (SCA) will give participants a look at their extensive works titled “Art of Quilting.” Guests will then visit the SCA Reading Room to examine books, historic pictures of quilts and historical publications on quilt making.
“These tours are a way to introduce the public to some of the great resources we have in Special Collections and Archives,” said Tim Binkley, an assistant professor of library science who heads SCA. “A lot of people think what we have is hidden away because it's so precious. While it's not something you can take home, it’s something that’s always available. To us, everything we've got in Special Collections and Archives is an educational resource. We want the public to have that experience of seeing some beautiful artistic prints that are 85 years old now, but that nobody has looked at for 50 years.”
The exhibit features 20 prints published by the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in 1937 as part of a program called The Museum Extension Project (MEP) to create visual aids for the story of history and cultures. The patterns were published in 1937 as an unbound folio titled Quilts: Pieced and Appliqued.
Binkley said he loves all quilt-block prints but ranks The Cockscomb Plate No. 9 as his favorite.
“It’s a big, red flower that looks like a fan,” Binkley said. “I like it best because I'm growing them at home – that exact same flower – so it makes me think of gardening, and gardening is a hobby I enjoy very much. If we can put art, craft and hobby together with gardening, I'm there.”
Guests are also invited to vote on their favorite pattern at the end of each tour.
According to the Quilt Index, people relied on the art of quilting during the Great Depression to craft warm quilts critical in withstanding cold winters. The practice would also take the focus off the harsh realities people faced during the time.
Today, quilting can serve the same purpose as it once did by providing a fun, creative way for people to bond with their communities, families and friends while creating a source of warmth.
"Friday Finds" tours take place from 2-3 p.m. on Oct. 7, Oct. 14, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28 at the Hutchins Library, 100 Campus Drive, Berea. To register, visit https://bctrace.com/explore and look for Hutchins Library. Attendees must wear masks inside the Hutchins Library.
SCA offers the public access to one-of-a-kind materials, including historic campus photographs, oral history recordings, traditional regional music and letters from Berea’s founders, early faculty and students. Special Collections and Archives supports the educational mission of Berea College by building and maintaining an extensive collection of primary-source materials documenting the history of Berea College, the Southern Appalachian region and the Berea community.