Fold Unfold: Textiles Exhibition Examines Coverlets As An Important Aspect Of Southern Material Culture

Fold Unfold
Wellington B. Gray Gallery
November 1-17, 2017

Opening Reception: Friday, November 3 , 5:00 PM 8:00 P

Curators talk: Friday, November 17, 4:00 p.m. in Speight Auditorium

Fold Unfold, a project by curators Susan Falls and Jessica Smith ,will be on display in the Wellington B. Gray Art Gallery on the campus of East Carolina University in Greenville, NC  from  November 1 through November 17, 2017. An opening reception will take place on First Friday, November 3 from 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Susan Falls and Jessica Smith will discuss their collaborative research and the development of this project in a gallery talk, Fold Unfold: When Coverlets meet Op Art, on Friday November 17th at 4 p.m. in Speight Auditorium in Jenkins Fine Arts Center. All events are free and open to the public.

Susan Falls, Professor of Anthropology, Savannah College of Art and Design and Jessica Smith, Professor of Fibers, Savannah College of Art and Design contacted over 100 weavers from the USA and Canada and invited skilled makers to weave objects which could be folded and unfolded, and that were the size of typical 19th century coverlets (80″ x 88″). These weavers were asked to consider overshot geometric patterning of 19th and early 20th century American coverlets but to use a modernist color scheme of black, white, and gray. These makers were artists, designers, guild weavers, students and others; some worked individually while others worked collaboratively.  Viewers will only glimpse the pattern, palette work, and overall value of these coverlets when they are folded, just as we most often found them in our research of 19th century sites. A slide show and catalog, revealing each coverlet in its entirety, will accompany the exhibition. The catalog, available on Amazon, includes essays by Sarah Kate Gillespie, Curator of American Art, Georgia Museum/UGA and Catherine Ellis, textile artist and educator.

North Carolina weavers in the exhibition are Robin Haller, Dani Burke, Barb Butler, Cassie Dickson, Melanie Wilder, Deanna Lynch, Laura Magdycz, Gabrielle Duggan and Nicole Asselin.  Robin Haller is professor of Textile Design in the School of Art and Design at ECU.

What is the difference between art and craft? Coverlet weaving requires tremendous aptitude and vision, but coverlets are lesser-known than quilts when it comes to southern material culture. And these bed coverings are often devalued (viewed as castoffs) or romanticized (connected to mythical narratives about community and gift giving) rather than recognized as having provided real value to households. To address a missed opportunity to examine coverlets as an important aspect of southern material culture, we present Fold Unfold, an installation of historic and contemporary coverlets. The contemporary art installation of 15 historic polychromatic and 54 contemporary monochromatic coverlets explores these objects from art-historical and museum perspectives in challenging aesthetic judgments that relegate coverlets to the realm of “craft” rather than “art.”

The Wellington B. Gray Gallery is located off of 5th and Jarvis Streets on the campus of East Carolina University in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The gallery is closed for all University holidays. Jenkins Fine Arts Center is handicapped accessible. Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should contact the Department of Disability Support Services, at least two weeks prior to the event (252) 737-1016.