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Historic Huguenot Street coverlet exhibit opens this Saturday at Dorsky Museum at SUNY-New Paltz

by @ Paul Smart
November 15, 2010 02:57 PM | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Maker/workshop unknown; Woven coverlet (double cloth, geometric), 1824, natural cotton and blue dyed wool; Collection Historic Huguenot Street, Photograph courtesy Gilbert Plantinga
Maker/workshop unknown; Woven coverlet (double cloth, geometric), 1824, natural cotton and blue dyed wool; Collection Historic Huguenot Street, Photograph courtesy Gilbert Plantinga
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There’s something apt about the recent rise of needlework as a revived artform in this country. It matches our nationalist attraction to hard work and craftsmanship, as well as the anonymity of populist toil trumping the individualism of pesky artists. It plays off our contemporary fascination with overlooked histories. And most importantly, it often places on museum and gallery walls items usually associated with warmth and comfort – something that we all seem to need these days as the world shifts all around us.

“Binary Visions: Early 19th-Century Woven Coverlets from the Collection of Historic Huguenot Street,” the new exhibit opening at SUNY-New Paltz’s Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in partnership with Historic Huguenot Street, will hold an opening this Saturday, October 16 with a gallery talk by the exhibition curators from 4 to 5 p.m., followed by a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. “The coverlets in this exhibition embody technical and manufacturing advances that were first made in the mid-Hudson Valley starting in the 18th century that enabled local weavers –primarily men trained in the carpet-weaving industry – to create bedcovers of particularly rich and striking designs for their clientele, primarily in rural communities throughout the area,” say the curators of their new show – something of a departure for the Dorsky, but highly symbolic of the close new ties between the two New Paltz institutions. “‘Binary Visions’ will focus on a select group of coverlets chosen for their strong graphic appeal, pattern play and optical complexity.”

Many of the coverlets on view will have local family provenance, originating in Ulster, Orange and Dutchess Counties. Look at it as our own means of matching the strength of similar fabric and quilting exhibits that have taken the country by storm in recent years, from the Ghee’s Bend quilts to Mardi Gras costumes.

‘Binary Visions’ has been curated by Brian Wallace of the Dorsky and Leslie LeFevre-Stratton of the Huguenot Historical Society, in consultation with textile historian and weaver S. Rabbit Goody. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Dorsky Museum will offer free Sunday gallery tours by guest educator Kevin Cook on Sunday afternoons at 2 as well as a panel discussion featuring interdisciplinary perspectives on the technology and optics of coverlets on a date to be announced in spring 2011.

The exhibition will be open through December 12, and again from January 26 to March 18, 2011. The opening reception this weekend will be a featured event of the monthly “Art along the Hudson/New Paltz Third Saturdays” series of events taking place throughout town. For further information on this show, contact the Dorsky at (845) 257-3844, visit www.newpaltz.edu/museum or go to www.huguenotstreet.org for more in-depth background materials on the coverlets being shown.

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