The Utah Shakespeare Festival has a special quilt on display for the Block by Block: Stories of Common Threads exhibit at the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum, which will run until December 31. The quilt was created by the Festival's first costume designer from the Festival's inaugural season in 1962.
"This quilt, which we treasure, was made by and for the very first costumer at the Festival, GayLynn Sherratt Childs," said Fred C. Adams, Festival founder. "But Gaylynn was not only our costumer, she also played Kate, the leading role in The Taming of the Shrew. This quilt was made by her mother from Gaylynn's costume designs for the show and made up out of the fabric from those first costumes. So it's a real walk down memory lane." The quilt was later donated to the Festival and is now referred to as "the Festival quilt."
The Festival quilt is only one aspect of the Block by Block: Stories of Common Threads at the museum. Ryan Paul, the museum's curator, assembled these quilts into an exhibit because he saw a connection between all the quilts on display. Paul said, "The Common thread is all the quilts tell a story in one way or another. Each one of these quilts has a very specific story tied to it."
Paul added that, "Quilting is one of America's art forms. It is one of those ways in which we have been telling stories for years." He compared quilting to early Native American pictographs and petroglyphs saying, "a quilt is the same thing. It uses visual imagery to tell a personal story, whether it's of you, of a family, or of an event. And so quilting actually serves as a mechanism to tell the story of ourselves and our country."
"Quilting is definitely an art form, and it's not a lost art form," said Adams. "It is a talent that is constantly evolving and coming up with new methods and new technologies. It's marvelous. But it's more than art; it's also a memory preserver."
Another unique aspect of this exhibit is that Utah quilters made all of the quilts on display. Some of the quilts were brought in from museums in Salt Lake City and Springville, and a few of the quilts were made by local artisans. The exhibit also offers the chance to hear the history of each of the displayed quilts first-hand with touch-screen video recordings of the stories of each quilt. Hands-on activities related to quilting are also available.
The exhibit is on display at the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum until December 31, 2012. You may get more information by visiting 635 North Main Street in Cedar City, by visiting FrontierHomestead.org, or by calling (435) 586-9290.