IQM to Host Event with Quilt Artist, Author

IQM to Host Event with Quilt Artist, Author

March 2, 2020

‘Striding Lines: An Evening with Rumi O’Brien and Bobbie Malone’ on Friday

The quiltmaker and author behind "Striding Lines: The Unique Story Quilts of Rumi O'Brien” will give a presentation at the International Quilt Museum on Friday, March 6 at 5:30 p.m. 

Rumi O’Brien and Bobbie Malone will speak about O'Brien's quilts, which are on display in “The Story of Quilts of Rumi O'Brien” through April 12 in the museum's Pumphrey Family Gallery. 

“This exhibition has captivated visitors of all ages,” said Leslie Levy, IQM executive director. “From elementary students on school tours to out-of-state travelers, Rumi O’Brien’s quilts have captured our imaginations.”

The daughter of Katsuji Matsumoto, a seminal manga –or comic book—artist, O’Brien grew up in Tokyo. She later moved to the United States to train as a watercolorist. For the past 50 years she has lived in Madison, Wisconsin, where for many years she made intricate story quilts. 

Malone is the author of "Striding Lines: The Unique Story Quilts of Rumi O'Brien.” A historian and editor, she is also the former director of the Office of School Services at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

“Rumi O’Brien’s quilts are an intimate portrait of her life,” said Marin Hanson, the IQM’s curator of international collections. “Whether they share the stories of her everyday life and world or imaginary landscapes, the quilts are deeply personal and relatable.”

The works reflect her cross-cultural background, sometimes displaying America’s block-style quilt format and sometimes using Japan’s episodic narrative structure—telling a story with a series of short, visual snippets. 

Each figure—often a stand-in for O’Brien herself—joins in both common and fantastical adventures, such as hunting for wild mushrooms, escaping from gargantuan fishes or dancing on mountains of strawberry gelatin. 

“It has been enjoyable and rewarding working with and learning about Rumi O’Brien and her quilts,” Hanson said. “We look forward to sharing the stories behind the quilts with our audience.”

Following their presentation O’Brien and Malone will sign copies of the book in the museum’s store. Admission to the IQM is free from 4-7 p.m. on March 6. 

Support for this exhibition and program comes from the Japan Foundation of New York, Friends of the International Quilt Museum and 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. 

The IQM is home to quilts dating from the 1600s through today, representing more than 55 countries.