A local collector traces hippie history in a quilt exhibit at OCCC 

click to enlarge Quilt collector and author Judy Howard organized the exhibition inspired by her book. (Inasmuch Foundation Gallery / Oklahoma City Community College / provided)
  • Inasmuch Foundation Gallery / Oklahoma City Community College / provided
  • Quilt collector and author Judy Howard organized the exhibition inspired by her book.

Quirky to Modern Art Quilts: Hippie at Heart mines the rich history of quilting in America to explore the enduring creativity and ingenuity of quilting as an art form.

Focusing on unique, idiosyncratic and sometimes even rebellious quilts, the show stitches together a legacy of historical and contemporary quilting that defied expectations and birthed new traditions.

Each quilt in the exhibition has a distinct and compelling story. A casket quilt from the 1800s commemorates a Civil War soldier’s death, a contemporary quilt depicts a garden scene with a 3-D movable winged butterfly and a Victorian crazy quilt stitches together rich fabrics of silks and velvets into a dizzying tapestry.

“It’s really a quintessential American story, a symbol and expression of what we value,” Oklahoma quilt collector and the exhibition’s organizer, Judy Howard, explained.

Quirky to Modern Art Quilts: Hippie at Heart is on display 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday or by appointment through October 20.

Quilts in the exhibition are available to purchase. The majority of proceeds will go to Peppers Ranch Foster Care Community, a long-term residential care facility for Oklahoma foster children located near Guthrie.

click to enlarge Quirky to Modern Art Quilts: Hippie at Heart was released in 2015. (provided)
  • provided
  • Quirky to Modern Art Quilts: Hippie at Heart was released in 2015.

Quilted art

Howard is an Oklahoma-based quilt collector and historian who has been collecting and selling antique quilts for 41 years at Buckboard Antique Quilts.

She views quilts as works of art and quilters as artists.

Howard said quilting has been and is an evolving movement.

“Not your grandma’s bedcovers, but art for the wall and a lot for the bed,” she said.

Howard’s Quirky to Modern Art Quilts exhibition, sourced almost entirely from her collection of quilts, seeks to tell a nearly unknown corner of the story of American quilting, one of the artistry, ingenuity and perseverance of quilters throughout time.

The exhibition is based on her extensive historical research on the quilts that she finds and sells that culminated in her authoring the book Quirky to Modern Quilts: Hippie at Heart.

In the book, Howard finds a connection between the hippies of the height of the Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury and the hardscrabble pioneer days on the prairie through what she terms a “rebel sensibility” or a rejection of mainstream styles and the creation of new ones.

Although they are from different eras and have distinct styles, the 50 quilts that make up the show share similar characteristics of creativity, craft, imagination and a healthy dose of rule-breaking.

For Howard, there is nothing new in quilting.

“These quilts from the 1800s through today have aimed at changing the world by leaving a legacy of creative kindness, love and story that only quilts can provide,” she said.

Visit occc.edu.

print headline: Quirky quilts, A local collector traces hippie history in a quilt exhibit at OCCC.

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