An advance copy of Roderick Kiracofe‘s new book is in my hands, and wow! It is another must-have. Unconventional and Unexpected: America Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000, a substantial book at 225 pages, is full of photos of 150 “eccentric, maverick and extraordinary quilts made predominantly by anonymous quilters”. Ok, I clearly should not have read the inside cover before doing this review because it just says it all so perfectly. These quilts “represent a twentieth century quilt movement that remains mostly undocumented–until now…..these..represent a freer, more casual, soulful yet bold aesthetic..”.
Roderick Kiracofe COLLECTS quilts. Yes, I continue to be jealous of this. Collecting fabric is great, but collecting whole quilts, ..yum! The introduction is its own soulful rendition of Roderick’s journey to quilt collector and quilt authority. There are incredible essays by quilters, quilt historians and curators that form the structure of the chapters, all sharing in the joy and importance of this collection in different ways.
I am interested in modern quilting, whatever that is. If one is given to speculate about the origins of the current modern quilt movement, with established quilters saying that it is nothing new, then this book sheds some light on the subject. For me, it is an exploration, through actual quilts, of the influences that decidedly are part of what we call modern quilting today.
These are mostly everyday quilts, created for warmth and utility. But what results are quilts that are outside of the box, improvisational, expressing the artistry of the maker. Each makes an indelible mark. Looked at not through current trends, but through a historical lens and a curator’s eye, these mostly anonymous, unique, one-of-a-kind quilts share so much love and history.
Reading this book or just leafing through the pictures is a journey of discovery itself. Thank you for sharing Roderick Kiracofe. This book is an important work. Highly recommend. Surpassed my expectations.