Tennessee State Museum explores the Art and Story in Tennessee Quilts with new exhibition

Double Wedding Ring quilt by Harriet Meneese Falls.

The Tennessee State Museum’s first new exhibition since its grand opening will be “Between the Layers: Art and Story in Tennessee Quilts.” Slated to open February 8, 2019 and run through July 7, 2019 with quilts selected from the Museum’s vast collection, the show will highlight Tennessee’s quilt artistry and the stories embedded in those quilts, across more than two centuries and all three grand divisions of the state.

“Individually crafted quilts are more than just a traditional way to brighten beds and decorate homes,” says Candace Adelson, Tennessee State Museum senior curator of fashion and textiles. “They can also be important outlets for artistic expression. Composed of layers, both physical and metaphorical, a quilt may further hold a wealth of stories—private stories, economic or political stories, stories of changing tastes, and stories and emotions created by the quilts themselves in the memories of we who experience them.”

Among the quilts and stories highlighted in “Between the Layers: Art and Story in Tennessee Quilts” are Double Wedding Ring pattern quilt (1920-35), by African American quilter Harriet M. Falls of Robertson County; People of the World (1979), by Lillian Beattie, a quilter of Portuguese and Cherokee descent, from McMinn and Hamilton Counties; Rebecah Foster’s 1808 Eagle Quilt; a Log Cabin pattern quilt (1865–75), by Jane C. Barnett, made in Shelby or Maury County; Dutch Tulip pattern quilt (1897-1902), by Frances Mary “Fannie” Powers, of Rutherford County; Rocky Mountain Road pattern quilt (1850-60), by a member of the Bacon Family of Roane County; and Flower Basket variation pattern quilt (1861-62), by Nancy Isabel “Nannie” Hendricks of Obion County.

People of the World (1979), by Lillian Beattie, from McMinn and Hamilton Counties.

“Between the Layers: Art and Story of Tennessee Quilts” will be complemented by a broad range of programming, including events at the Museum, digital initiatives and community outreach. More information about the show and the many quilts on view is available at tnmuseum.org.

Attend free Lunch & Learn presentation monthly. First up is Using Quilts to Interpret the Experiences of African American Women in Tennessee by Tiffany Momon on February 13, 2019 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. Mark your calendars for these: In Conversation: Bets Ramsey & Merikay Waldvogel, Reflections on Tennessee Quilting by Two Master Quilters, March 16, 2019 @ 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM and Tennessee Quilts: Discovery and Identification, April 13, 2019 @ 10AM-4:00 PM.

Tiffany Momon, a Research Professor at the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, will give a presentation on the artist behind the creation of a Double Wedding Ring quilt in the Museum’s current quilt exhibition, Between the Layers: Art and Story in Tennessee Quilts. The quilt was created by Harriet Meneese Falls, a formerly enslaved African American woman living in Robertson County, Tennessee. She worked as a nanny for Maxine Elliott, for whom she later created the quilt. This presentation will delve deeper into Harriet’s life, revealing the story between the layers of her work of art.

The Tennessee State Museum’s Lunch & Learn series is a chance for participants to eat a brown bag lunch while learning about Tennessee history. Presentations begin at noon and last about 30 minutes. All programs are completely FREE to the public. For those unable to attend the Lunch and Learn, the event will be Livestreamed on the State’s Museum’s Facebook Page