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Quilters share their journeys at Kingman exhibit

Hand-made quilts like these will be on display at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.

KINGMAN - The members of the Kingman Quilters Guild are ready to take visitors to the Mohave Museum of History and Arts on a journey.

Their colorful, large and small quilts will be displayed Saturday through Oct. 11 in the museum's auditorium as part of the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street's Journey Stories exhibit. Kingman has been chosen to host the national exhibit through Nov. 10 and is the third stop in a six-stop tour of the state.

Journey Stories tells personal stories of America's movement over the years, from its founding and expansion to the advent of airplanes, trains and personal vehicles. The exhibit has traveled the nation since 2009, visiting 100 communities in 18 states. This is its first tour in Arizona.

The accompanying quilt exhibit, called "A Journey of Quilting," features several sections - pioneer quilts, war quilts, album quilts, decorative arts quilts, Depression Era quilts, folk art quilts and contemporary quilts. It also includes a section of individual journey quilts that tell the life stories of the guild members who crafted them.

"Every year for the past 15 years, we've had an annual quilt show here at the museum," said Karin Goudy, chairwoman of the quilting exhibit. "This year, we were asked to come up with something pertaining to people's journeys. I'm hoping that through these quilts, visitors will see the significance of the journeys we as Americans have made in our lives over the years."

Pioneer quilts, which would have been made from fabric blocks during the 1860s as pioneers were expanding west, were constructed around campfires or lanterns after the day's travel. They were used to wrap fragile family possessions for the trip and as shrouds for those who died along the trail. Their styles included Irish chain, log cabin, wedding ring and churn dash.

War quilts included those made during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, World War I from 1914 to 1918 and World War II from 1939 to 1945. Civil War quilts were twin size and made from homespun cotton or wool. Soldiers brought their own and carried them as bedrolls. World War I quilts were hung in windows to honor sons taken abroad, while World War II quilts honored fallen soldiers. Homemade quilts were auctioned off to finance each war.

Album quilts were popular from 1840 to 1870 and were considered keepsakes by early settlers. Originals from that time period are on display in museums around the country. Decorative arts quilts were produced from 1850 to 1920 and were called Crazy Quilts because of random, asymmetrical design. Decorative arts quilts also included the poorer Colonial quilts made from worn bedclothes for warmth and the wealthier Victorian quilts crafted from silk, velvet or satin.

Depression quilts were made from 1928 to 1942 and were bright, cheerful covers made from cast-off fabrics. They served as a comfort and diversion during hard times and satisfied a need for thriftiness. Folk art quilts were produced from the 1600s to the early 20th century and were used for warmth and to sell.

Contemporary quilts include those made from 1959 to the present day and are composed of a variety of styles, fabrics and colors. They feature non-traditional design and are used for home décor, warmth and to sell. Individual journey quilts are small three-layer quilts that tell the stories of those who make them, using all types of fabrics and embellishments. Samples of quilts from each section are displayed at the museum, as well as 32 individual journey quilts.

Linda Gibson, president of the guild, pointed out her journey quilt, called "The Navy life, the corporate life, the retired life - a wonderful life." It features pictures of her life, from being born and raised in Iowa, living in California while her husband served in the U.S. Navy, and moving to Kingman in 2000 and establishing an "Elvis" room in her home.

"This is a way to share our life stories," said Gibson. "We're all friends in the guild and have similar interests, but we're also different. This is a wonderful means to find out about the things we never knew about each other. I'm learning amazing tidbits about women I've known for three years now."

Pandora Patterson, co-chairwoman of the quilt exhibit, said she named her journey quilt "Defining Pandora" because it is an accurate representation of her life.

The quilt includes pictures of dogs, her interests as a former middle school teacher of U.S. history, an Arizona Highway magazine picture because she has subscribed since she was in second grade, and a jigsaw puzzle in memory of her mother, who came to live with her before she died and loved jigsaw puzzles.

"I call it 'Defining Pandora' because it shows who I am and how I got here," said Patterson. "These are the things that are important to me. This was a hard journey for me to make and I love who I am today. I'm so blessed and what I've included on my quilt is very representative of me and how happy I am."

The quilt exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, 400 W. Beale St. Admission to the exhibit and Journey Stories is $4 for adults and $3 for seniors.

Children are free with a paying adult.


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