The Great Western Virginia Cover-Up: Historic Quilts & Bedcovers
Over 50 of Southwest Virginia’s finest old quilts and coverlets take center stage in a new exhibition at Ferrum College’s Blue Ridge Institute & Museum. The Great Western Virginia Cover-Up: Historic Quilts & Bedcovers showcases the region’s bedcover-making traditions from the 1700s to 1950. The exhibition runs now through the Spring of 2013 in the Institute’s DuPont Gallery on the Ferrum campus. Admission is free.
Western Virginia’s vintage bedcovers tell a 150-year saga of rural women, inventors, soldiers, publishers, and even hog feed salesmen. The Great Western Virginia Cover-Up includes premier examples of historic “whitework” spreads, album quilts, Virginia Rose quilts, crazy quilts, and feed sack quilts. Also on display is one of five known Virginia bed rugs, dated 1833.
Southwest Virginians began making homespun material in the eighteenth century, and by 1800 they could buy an amazing variety of fabrics in backcountry stores. They turned these resources into countless quilts, coverlets, blankets, and spreads—most of which were eventually worn out and discarded.
“These beautiful quilts and coverlets are the survivors,” said the exhibition’s guest curator, Natalie Norris. “They are here today because the people who made and owned them saw these pieces as special—and rightly so.
Featuring 32 quilts and 20 coverlets and blankets, The Great Western Virginia Cover-Up draws from the collections of the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum as well as regional museums, historical societies, and private collectors. Most of the pieces have never before been exhibited. In conjunction with The Great Western Virginia Cover-Up the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum plans to hold a series of regional quilt documentation days over the next year.
Crooked Road Royalty & Musical Styles
Southwest Virginians have an ear for music, and Crooked Road Royalty & Musical Styles showcases the long history of picking and singing in the mountains. The exhibition first highlights the careers of the Hill Billies, the Stoneman Family, the Carter Family, and the Stanley Brothers, four Virginia powerhouse groups that helped build the American country music industry. Visitors can then explore the rich variety of roots music western Virginians sing and play—fiddle-and-banjo tunes, bluegrass, ballads of love and death, sentimental mountain songs, blues, and gospel. The exhibition includes rare film footage and photographs of historic Crooked Road musicians.
“The story of American country music is filled with singers and pickers from the Crooked Road region,” says Andrew Pauly, exhibit researcher. “Even today’s young country music stars know songs that were first recorded by the early Southwest Virginia artists.”
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