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Super Stars: Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum

November 16, 2010–December 18, 2011

Welcome to the Year of the Quilt, the American Folk Art Museum’s celebration of a glorious American art form. This exhibition is part of a twelve-month-long series of shows, educational programming, and special events organized by the museum to emphasize the creative contributions of three centuries of talented women. Presented in conjunction with a new publication that illustrates two hundred of the museum’s most significant bedcovers, “Super Stars” illuminates one theme in these textile masterpieces from the collection.

Quiltmakers have always sought inspiration from the world around them, introducing the outdoors into the domestic interior through bedcovers that may reflect the colors of the landscape, the imagery of flowers in a garden, or animal and insect life. Stars, some of the most important elements of the natural world, are also a beloved and enduring motif in American quilts. Stars appeared in pieced bedcovers as early as the 18th century and remain popular with quilt artists today. Their ethereal light has guided nighttime travelers on sea and on land; their faraway presence has become the stuff of dreams when pieced, appliquéd, or embroidered into the form of a quilt. These associations are explored in the exhibition “Super Stars,” which highlights the dazzling diversity of this variable pattern in more than one hundred years of quilt artistry.


Star of Bethlehem with Satellite Stars Quilt
Artist unidentified
Possibly Pennsylvania
Cotton and blends
81 1/4 x 81 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick M. Danziger, 1985.4.1

Carpenter’s Wheel Variation Quilt
Artist unidentified
Midwestern United States
Cotton and synthetics, including nylon
91 x 81 1/2 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of David Pottinger, 1980.37.41

Broken Star Quilt
Clara Bontraeger (dates unknown)
Haven, Kansas
73 1/2 x 67 1/4 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of David Pottinger, 1980.37.47

Center Star with Corner Stars Quilt
Unidentified member of the Glick family
Probably Arthur, Illinois
82 1/2 x 76 3/4 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Phyllis Haders, 1985.3.1

Star of France Quilt
Artist unidentified
United States
81 3/4 x 81 3/4 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Cyril Irwin Nelson in honor of Robert Bishop, American Folk Art Museum director (1977–1991), 1990.17.4
Photo by Gavin Ashworth

Mariner’s Compass Quilt
Artist unidentified
United States
75 1/4 x 70 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Kinuko Fujii, Osaka, Japan, 1991.8.2
Photo by Matt Hoebermann


Major support for programs and exhibitions at the museum’s branch location at Lincoln Square is provided by Joyce Berger Cowin.

Quilt: a video on quilt patterns by Gayle Thomas produced by the National Film Board of Canada
Watch the video