This exhibition features work by two artists whose work redefines the quilt genre and whose innovative ideas are as powerful as their quilts.
A fabric designer, plant artist, and book author, master quilter Yoshiko Jinzenji creates objects of beauty from her studios in Japan and Indonesia. She has been inspired by North American Amish and Mennonite artisan traditions, Asian dyeing and weaving techniques, and the Mandala. She seeks to create “shadows and light, and to find a balance between minimalism and a sense of richness.” Known for her spare aesthetic and rich use of textures, Jinzenji has also pioneered the dyeing of fabric with bamboo. The concentrated strength of her artistry transforms cloth, whether through quilting and piecing or by natural dyeing, which she considers a complementary process.
Hailing from Kansas, Virginia Jean Cox Mitchell creates quilts based on historical and personal research and symbolic forms, all pieced, appliquéd, and stitched by hand to portray complex historical moments and seasonal events. Her quilts and quilt tops feature rich combinations of text and textile, springing from the personal and the topical, the meanings of holidays, the abundance of Kansas quilting and farming traditions, and more. In addition to producing these major works of art, Virginia Jean Cox Mitchell has made twenty-eight different quilt blocks about Kansas and authored the book Quilt Kansas!, published in conjunction with the Kansas Quilt Symposium in 1978.
This exhibition pairs the two artists’ work to reveal contrasts as well as continuities.
The exhibited quilts are drawn from the significant recent gifts that each artist independently made to the Spencer Museum of Art’s permanent collection. In 2007, Yoshiko Jinzenji donated her life-work of quilts to the Spencer Museum, the only repository of her work in Kansas. Other museums that house Yoshiko Jizenji collections include the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
In 2013, Virginia Jean Cox Mitchell and her husband Bill Mitchell (a longtime curator for the Spencer Research Library) generously donated Jean’s body of work to the Spencer Museum. The gift includes quilt blocks and nearly twenty quilts and quilt tops, plus pillow covers and a banner.
We are humbled by the astonishing gifts from both artists, and we are delighted to share their quilts with visitors through this exhibition.
Sponsored by Kaw Valley Quilters Guild and Spencer Museum of Art.