A Rare Occurrence

A Rare Occurrence

A Rare Occurrence Quilt Image

On August 21, Lincoln will experience its first total eclipse in recorded history. While solar eclipses occur about once every 18 months, they are typically only seen in a specific area once every 375 years. To celebrate this moment, the International Quilt Museum will open a special pop-up exhibition of quilts August 18-20 in the Dillow Conservation Work Room.

The nine quilts on display consist of traditional American, studio art and international pieces. This will include an indigo Rising Sun pattern made circa 1840-1860 in Ohio and two dated historical pieces—Stars and Comet and Rainbow Quilt—both made in 1892 in Pennsylvania. There will also be a Godhari from Maharashtra, India, and art quilts by Jean Ray Laury, Olga Prins Lukowski and Terrie Hancock Mangat.

Works in the Exhibition

Works in the Exhibition

Stars and Comet
Harriet Miller Carpenter
Made in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Cotton; hand-quilting and embroidery
1997.007.0264, Ardis and Robert James Collection

Identifiable celestial objects including the moon, a comet, stars and constellations adorn this yellow and blue-green wholecloth-style quilt. Observable natural events, such as the Great Comet of 1881, or the previous solar eclipse in 1878, had many people looking toward the skies. This quilt was created for Harriet Carpenter’s oldest granddaughter, Elisie, when Elisie was eight years old. This quilt is unusual in the Mennonite tradition for not only its stylized natural representation but also the colors chosen by the maker. It was created in the same northern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Mennonite community as the Rainbow quilt.

Rainbow Quilt
Possibly made by Brubaker or Habecker
Possibly made in Pennsylvania, United States
Cotton; hand-quilting and embroidery
1997.007.0769, Ardis and Robert James Collection

The flaring rays of the sun at the bottom right corner of this quilt may have been inspired by the
countless printed illustrations of the eclipse during the 19th century. While other quilts are solely solar-focused, the original design on this quilt incorporates other natural phenomenon, such as a rainbow.  The imagery present is unusual within the Mennonite tradition, representing a pictorial break from geometric traditions. It was created by a member of the same northern Lancaster County, PA community as Stars and Comet.

Going with the Flow
Olga Prins Lukowski
About 2005
Made in Molenschot, the Netherlands
Synthetics; applique

In this piece, variously sized glowing jewel-like moons are contained with boxes, creating kaleidoscopic visions of the moon or sun. A slow gradient of color travels across the surface, creating a 21st century space-age sampler where each iteration is contained within its own box or block, but is seemingly random in its arrangement and placement. The non-woven spun bonded fabric is a nontraditional choice for a quilt, and it’s design calls to mind the instrument panel of a science fiction vessel. One is almost tempted to jettison the quilt into space to see if it would survive.

Rising Sun
Maker unknown
About 1840-1860
Possibly made in Ohio
Cotton; hand-quilting

A certain fascination with representing the solar eclipse occurred around the time of this quilt’s creation: in 1851 the first photograph of a solar eclipse occurred in Russia. This quilt was made before the widespread dissemination of printed patterns, however the the name of the pattern, Rising Sun, became associated with this particular design in the 20th century. Given this information, perhaps the sixteen suns are meant to echo a myriad of artistic depictions of
solar eclipses throughout the 19th century.

Signature Quilt
Members of the First Christian Church
Possibly made in Omaha, Nebraska
Cotton; hand-quilting, embroidery

Created and designed by members of the First Christian Church of Omaha, this signature quilt was made as a souvenir for the youngest child of Reverend T.E. Cramblet. Signatures are arranged around embroidered circles that visually echo the sun’s corona flaring around the moon during an eclipse. A closer look reveals that the back is pieced in a variation on the classic Snowball pattern. Despite the aytpical color choice, there is no evidence that this was a mourning quilt; most likely, it was created as a farewell gi  for the toddler and family when the Cramblets moved away from Omaha.

Maker unknown
About 2000-2010
Made in Wai, Maharashtra, India
Cotton; hand-quilting and applique

This quilt takes the viewer to a diffierent part of space, on a slightly tangential journey. While the moon and the sun aren’t directly represented in this Hindi quilt, the imagery is related to objects and bodies within our solar system. According to the collector Geeta Kandewahl, who originally acquired the quilt, the maker has created a version of the Vedic astrological chart.

Terrie Hancock Mangat
Made in Cincinnati, Ohio
Cotton, paint and beads; hand-quilting, embroidery and applique

Like many other quilts included in this exhibit, Terrie Hancock Mangat offers the viewer a dazzling vision of a fleeting celestial event. Mangat’s Fireworks follows an artistic thread present in other quilts: attempting to capture a radiant transitory event.

Moonrise on Jupiter
Jean Ray Laury
Made in California
Cotton blends; screenprinting 2010.014.0004

Flaring orbs are laid out in a grid format, echoing the mid-19th century Rising Sun quilt, but Jean Ray Laury’s quilt offers something unique to 20th century quiltmaking: screenprinting. As an advocate of exploring various surface design methods, Laury often created her own textiles including the examples present in this work. Through layering of various radiating forms Laury creates a visual progression similar to an eclipse.

Sunshine and Shadow
Maker unknown
Possibly made in Ohio, United States
About 1920-1940
Cotton; hand-quilting 2000.007.0001

While the traditional Amish pattern Sunshine and Shadow can be interpreted as symbolic of balance in the universe, a more literal interpretation of the pattern name and design evokes the occurrence of a total solar eclipse. Thee central diamond renders the sun’s flaring corona in a succession of red, yellows and oranges square radiating from the center. 

Works in the Exhibition

Featured Media

Featured Media
Featured Media
This exhibition was made possible through funding from the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this exhibition through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Visit www.artscouncil.nebraska.gov for more information. Additional support provided by Friends of the International Quilt Museum. Additional support provided by Friends of the International Quilt Museum.
Event Date
Friday, August 18, 2017 to Sunday, August 20, 2017