Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas
detail: Bill Willie’s Factotum Whirligig quilt top by Virginia Jean Cox Mitchell

Personal Geometry: Quilts by Yoshiko Jinzenji and Virginia Jean Cox Mitchell

February 8 - May 18, 2014 | Gallery 316

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.


Public Programs

2.22.14
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Gallery Talk: Asian Creation: Inspired Design from the East
2:00 – 3:00 PM / Spencer Museum of Art
Fabric designer, plant artist, book author, and master quilter Yoshiko Jinzenji has traveled from Japan to discuss her practice, her influences, and the quilts on view in "Personal Geometry: Quilts by Yoshiko Jinzenji and Virginia Jean Cox Mitchell." The exhibition is on view at the Spencer through May 18, 2014.
3.2.14
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Gallery Talk: Personal Geometry with Susan Earle
2:00 – 3:00 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 316
Explore the Personal Geometry exhibition with the curator as your guide. This intimate session invites close study of the divergent aesthetics of two master quilters: Yoshiko Jinzenji, who lives and works in Japan and Indonesia, and Virginia Jean Cox Mitchell of Lawrence, Kansas. This is a qualifying event in Visual Art for students seeking Arts Engagement Certification.
3.15.14
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Activity: Quilt Geometry
10:30 – 11:30 AM / Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 316
The Spencer Museum's Director of Education Kristina Walker leads a lively tour of the Personal Geometry exhibition, then participants work together to create paper quilt blocks. Ideally suited for children ages 5-8 and their chaperones.
4.13.14
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Gallery Talk: New Directions / Historical Forms
2:00 – 3:00 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 316
Renowned quilt historian and honorary curator of quilts Barbara Brackman leads a discussion of the traditional needlework techniques behind the non-traditional quilts on view in Personal Geometry. Discover global influences from Japanese patchwork to English stumpwork through antique pieces from Brackman's own collection and the Museum’s holdings.
4.15.14
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Gallery Talk: Virginia Jean Cox Mitchell
1:30 – 2:30 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 316
Artist Virginia Jean Cox Mitchell discusses her quilts on view in Personal Geometry including the significance of her themes and the symbols stitched into each piece.

Press


Organized by Susan Earle and Cassandra Mesick.

Sponsored by Kaw Valley Quilters Guild and Spencer Museum of Art.