For internationally renowned quiltmaker Paula Nadelstern, the word kaleidoscope “promises surprise and magic, change and chance.” Nadelstern (born 1951) has spent over two decades capturing in cloth the excitement of the ever-changing relationships of color, pattern, light and texture of kaleidoscope images.
Nadelstern’s dazzling quilts employ crystalline patterns composed of painstakingly assembled slivers of jewel-like fabrics. Her creations encompass science, history and artistic tradition. This exhibition places the artist’s quilts within a historical context for the first time, exploring the kaleidoscope’s impact on the decorative arts, including quilts, and the intimate relationship between Nadelstern’s quilts and the art of the contemporary kaleidoscope.
The original inspiration for Nadelstern’s kaleidoscopic quilts came from the bilateral symmetry of the design on a bolt of Liberty of London fabric. This type of imagery was unimagined before the invention of the kaleidoscope in 1816 by Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster. The device reached American shores by 1818 but not until the 1870s were significant refinements made by Charles G. Bush.
The potential of the kaleidoscope as a design source for decorative applications was immediately recognized and its abstractions had a particularly profound effect on quiltmaking. In this exhibition an early 19th century star pattern quilt joins 19 contemporary quilts and 12 kaleidoscope quilt blocks by Paula Nadelstern; contemporary kaleidoscopes; and two rare early kaleidoscopes, one patented by Brewster and one by Bush. Akron will be the only Midwest venue for this stunning exhibition.
Click here to see the catalog for Kaleidoscope Quilts: The Art of Paula Nadelstern.
Kaleidoscope Quilts: The Art of Paula Nadelstern is organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York. The tour of this exhibition is supported in part by the Leir Charitable Foundations in memory of Henry J. & Erna D. Leir, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.
Its presentation in Akron is made possible by an Exclusive Sponsorship gift from the Robert O. & Annamae Orr Family Foundation.
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