Thursday Evening

Welcome Event

Please join us for this gala inauguration of the American Quilt Study Group 40th Anniversary on Thursday evening from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Lincoln. Enjoy light hors d’oeuvres and the cash bar as you mingle with old and new friends. Activities for the evening will include a pictorial display from the archives of AQSG, an exhibit by the Lincoln Modern Quilt Guild and a presentation by Jean Wakely on the story quilt project.

Do enjoy dinner on your own before or after this event.

Story Quilt Project

Jean Wakely

From the 1980’s until her death in 2011, Jewell Wolk of Cut Bank, Montana, created 13 whimsical quilts, each one telling a different story about women’s role in historic events and family life in Montana. Jewell’s daughter, Jean Wakely, delights audiences by sharing the quilts and telling their stories – in much the same way as her mother did with many audiences during her life.

Jean describes the quilts as ‘Grandma Moses style’ –scenes of everyday life and pieces of history, depicted in a colorful and distinct, simple style, but with amazing details that add humor and make viewers smile.

Jewell spent her entire life in Cut Bank; her parents were original homesteaders and ranchers in the Sweet Grass Hills and she and her husband, Bob (her high school sweetheart), raised their family, while helping to build the small town at the base of Glacier National Park into the community it is today.

Jewell always had a passion for history or her-story as she called it. She loved to pick a topic, read everything in the library about it, and then visit with everyone about the subject until she was utterly exhausted with information. She even created a special stitch she called “Appli-J” for stitching the story pieces to the background cloth.

Photo courtesy of Jean Wakely. Women of the Plains Designed and Quilted by Jewell Wolk.

Jewell’s stories are about women’s history, Montana history, survival, family, homesteads, and the Bible. As the oldest daughter, Jean would watch her mother make these quilts and share the stories at the University of Colorado Denver Annual Storytelling Congress in the early 1990’s.

The quilt Women of the Plains honors Jewell’s three adopted daughters, Marion, Luella and Nancy BearWalker of Browning, MT by depicting the heritage of the nomadic Blackfeet tribe who lived on the northern plains of Montana at the base of Glacier National Park. What did these women use for diapers? Jean would be most happy to tell you.

Jean helped her mother capture the stories in writing and has become the family keeper of the quilts, sharing them and telling their stories. Jean will be telling stories during the Opening Reception on Thursday evening. AQSG thanks the Minnesota Quilters and the Quilters’ Guild of North Dakota for supporting this presentation.

Jean hopes that everyone who sees the quilts will find inspiration to tell a story or two of their own to preserve the wonderful art of oral storytelling. 

Friday Keynote Address

Quilts in Common
Marin Hanson

What can students of American quilts learn from the quilts of other countries? By studying direct antecedents, such as examples from the U.K. and France, we can unearth the European roots of American quilts. By examining stylistic descendants, such as now-global studio art quilts, we can note the spread of American artistic influence. But what if we pull the focus out even further? What if we place American quilts side by side with textiles that share no apparent lineage?

The impulse to create decorative, layered textiles is deep-seated and world-wide; quilts have been made for centuries, all over the globe. Despite disparate origins, quilts from different times and places often share design elements, construction methods, thematic content, or iconography. Identifying and exploring these similarities—while carefully avoiding decontextualization and oversimplification—can be rewarding. Reframing inquiry to include unexpected comparisons and counterpoints can broaden perspectives and produce new understandings. Using the International Quilt Museum’s collection, which represents five centuries and more than fifty countries, Marin Hanson will present commonalities that unite quilts from such diverse periods and locations as late nineteenth-century Pennsylvania, early twentieth-century Hawai’i, and late twentieth-century Pakistan. She will also highlight examples of research and curation informed by global perspectives and interdisciplinary methodologies. A “quilts in common” approach is wide-ranging, rigorous, and focused, and gives powerful reminders that cultures and human beings have more in common than is often recognized.

Marin Hanson is Curator of International Collections at the International Quilt Museum (IQM), University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). She is responsible for building and interpreting the museum’s non-Western collection. Dr. Hanson earned an MA in museum studies and textile history from UNL and a PhD in museum studies from the University of Leicester (UK). Her doctoral research focused on cross-cultural quiltmaking practices, with particular emphasis on China and the United States—more specifically, quilts made for Chinese adoptees. Dr. Hanson is co-editor of American Quilts in the Modern Age, 1870-1940, the first in the IQM’s comprehensive series of collections catalogs (University of Nebraska Press, 2009) and editor of the museum’s globally-focused website, World Quilts ( She has curated a variety of exhibitions, including Quilts in Common: Around the World and Across the Centuries, Reflections of the Exotic East in American Quilts, and Getting to Know You: Highlights from the Collection. She has been a curator at the IQM since 2001 and served on the board of the non-profit Quilt Alliance from 2009 to 2017.


Sunday Speaker

Material Culture in Motion:
Multi-disciplinary Methods for Textile Research

Claire Nicholas

This presentation explores multi-disciplinary approaches for researching material culture, with a focus on textiles and quilts. The discussion revolves around my research on Moroccan weaving and embroidery and textiles and clothing in eldercare settings, as well as examples drawn from student work in the graduate Seminar, “Material Culture Research Methods.” As a scholar, I am interested in how different disciplines respond to the following questions: How do mundane “things” and the givenness of the world around us sometimes constitute the most deeply anchored, but often unrecognized, contours of social and cultural categories and behaviors? What other information is required to interpret or understand the meanings, functions, and power of the physical object itself? After a brief discussion of analytical frameworks and methods relevant to the study of material culture, the talk turns to how my scholarship addresses those prompts. The ethnographic research design and methods used in my recent and ongoing field-based research bring into view what I refer to as material culture in motion: the social and cultural practices, meanings, and emotional investments constituted by people engaging with textiles in real time (or across time). The talk then describes the application of material culture methods in museum-based research projects, where students investigate the objects, documentation, presentation, and interpretive stances featured in two Spring 2019 exhibitions at the IQM. These assignments treat the museum as a kind of field site, where students learn how diverse methods of data collection and analysis enable them to pose and answer different kinds of questions about quilts.

Claire Nicholas is Assistant Professor of Textiles and Material Culture in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She holds a PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from Princeton University, a DEA from EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris), and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on the ethnography of craft and design process, pedagogy, and the everyday practices (and politics) of making and interpreting material and visual culture. Dr. Nicholas has conducted fieldwork in Morocco and across North America in contexts ranging from artisanal textile workshops to university architecture studios and eldercare facilities.

Friday Research Workshop

Moving Forward with Your Quilt Research

Publications Committee

Have a great idea and don’t know where to begin your research? Searched the genealogy and don’t know what to do with it? Need some guidance to make sense of your data? The Publications Committee will present brief topical discussions of research methods  and paper preparation. Then we will divide into small groups to discuss your projects. Participants will come with a project in mind or underway and leave with renewed commitment and direction.  Please join us on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday Poster Session

Colleen R. Hall-Patton
This research compares the ideas of the current modern quilt movement and magazine articles in the 1950s presenting a ‘new and modern’ approach to quilting during a transition decade when old design ideas no longer provided an anchor for quilt production.

Kristin Barrus
This pilot study aims to answer the question of Why We Quilt by investigating the impact patchwork quilting has on the lives of eager young women.

The poster session is a venue for presenting members’ ongoing research projects to fellow Seminar participants. View displays of research questions, methods, and preliminary results that invite dialogue with colleagues. Poster presenters will be available to discuss and field questions about their research for the entire session. Make time in your schedule to attend this engaging event on Saturday afternoon. Included in your Seminar registration fee.

Saturday Panel Presentations

Included in your Seminar registration fee.

The Feather Motif in American Quilts
Linda Baumgarten
1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
This 20-minute oral presentation focuses on the motif known as a “feather,” its defining characteristics and variations, as well as when and where it shows up as a quilting pattern on clothing and bed coverings. Although the exact roots of the motif are obscure, this PowerPoint presentation will suggest some possible origins from international decorative arts. Illustrations will include line drawings and photographs.

Art from Everyday Life: The Improvisational Quilts of Susana Allen Hunter
Jeanine Head Miller
2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Through the lens of one African-American woman’s quilts and story, this presentation will explore improvisational quilts. It will also touch on the process of documenting the quiltmaker and her environment (through research, oral histories with family and friends, and a trip to the now-abandoned home where she made the 34 quilts in The Henry Ford’s collection), and on our exhibit approach in presenting these non-traditional quilts to a broad public audience.

The World of Amish Quilts: Seeking Ways of Living, Weaving the World A Thematic Exhibition at the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan
Nanami Suzuki
2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
This PowerPoint presentation will report the purpose and the contents of the exhibition held at the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in 2018, and examine the developments brought about by the exchange with people throughout the entire process of the exhibition. It includes the opinions of participants and visitors received during the preparations and the exhibition. The main purpose of the display of Amish quilts and everyday items is to show Japanese museum visitors that although Amish people seem to be apart from the modern world they actually interact with other people and the environment.

Korean Quilted Armor: A Material Culture Exploration of Protective Textiles
Younhee Kang and Claire Nicholas
3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
“Nubi” is a genre of traditional Korean quilts and associated quilt-making techniques. The quilting techniques of Nubi have been applied to a wide range of textiles such as clothing, bed linens, and armor. To date, very little scholarship exists on Nubi armor, and access to those museum collections is limited. This presentation shares from a material culture and historical exploration of Nubi, based on archival records and the reproduction of Nubi samples modeled after artifacts dating from the 17th to the 19th century. The study contributes to an understanding of the technical and material properties of Korean quilted armor through careful documentation of the reproduction process, and the eventual material testing of the samples in a second stage of the research.

The Future of Chintz Research-Where Do We Go From Here?
Terry Terrell, Merikay Waldvogel, Carolyn Ducey, and Barbara Brackman
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Chintz quilts, popular from 1800-1850, are valuable objects in museum and private textile collections in the U.S. and the U.K., yet over the past 50 years little new information has been published about these pieced and appliquéd bedcovers stitched from multi-colored, large-scale fabrics. Digital photography and communication, internet-based genealogy, local history scans and museum databases have opened new windows into social and material sources of chintz quilts. Four researchers with perspectives as museum curators, fabric and botanical historians will present suggestions for future directions in research. New information on dating fabrics and finished bedcovers offers perspectives on quiltmakers and family stories. A look at patchwork style in Great Britain and the eastern U.S. establishes regional characteristics, offering suggestions for further research into how style and fabric was shared. Formats for digital age publishing on line and in print will also be discussed.