PADUCAH, Ky., June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Having concluded its 11th contest, Quilt Japan is among the most prestigious international quilting competitions, showcasing the work of talented craftspeople from Japan and a number of other countries. From June 14 through September 9, visitors will enjoy an exhibit of 33 signature quilts from this year's competition at The National Quilt Museum (http://www.quiltmuseum.org) in Paducah, Kentucky. Visitors to the exhibit, especially those unfamiliar with the state of quiltmaking in Japan, will be astonished at the artistry and painstaking detail of the featured quilts.
Japanese quilters have won accolades throughout the world for their combination of near-perfect handcraft with exceptionally creative designs. In Japan, Quilting exhibitions are as popular as any fine art show. In 1998, World Quilt '98 drew 100,000 visitors in just 4 days. More recently, when 9th Quilt Japan was exhibited at Quilt Festival Nagoya in 2011 over 30,000 people visited the exhibit in the first five days. Today's Asian quilters represent a seamless fusion between American Colonial traditions and Japanese aesthetics, not to mention the emphasis on detail and perfection that results from Japan's carefully managed instruction and certification system.
"The 11th Quilt Japan exhibit is a wonderful opportunity for Americans to catch a glimpse of the extraordinary culture of handcraft in Japan. Only three museums in the United States will have the privilege of showing these quilts," explained Judy Schwender, National Quilt Museum Curator/Registrar. "Visitors can see how Japanese quilters have taken the American-style patchwork quilt as a starting point, and then adapted and modified the form to their own unique sensibilities."
Contemporary quilting was first introduced to Japan in the early 1970s, coinciding with the bicentennial revival of traditional arts and crafts in the United States. Traveling quilt exhibits from America drew thousands of admiring guests, while books, magazines, television shows and movies all featured stories and scenes of quiltmaking. In 1975, the Jonathan Holstein and Gail van der Hoof Collection toured Tokyo and Kyoto, giving many Japanese citizens their first up-close glimpse of traditional American quilts. Visitors carefully studied the quilts' designs and construction techniques, no doubt taking mental notes for their own needlework.
These early, formative years of quiltmaking in Japan were dependent upon the American model of the craft. American quilts were romanticized for their connection to a simpler, more frugal past. With few Japanese language resources at the time for learning quilting, many women adopted a trial and error approach to making their own quilts. A few took courses in the United States, then brought the technique home with them to teach others. In this way, quiltmaking eventually diffused throughout Japan, becoming a craft practiced and enjoyed today by millions of people.
In contrast to the American model, where handicrafts are taught through social networks of family and friends or informal workshops, Japanese quiltmaking has become a bona fide fine art, where schools and certified instructors pass the knowledge of quilting techniques on to students. The Japanese Handicraft Instructors' Association (JHIA) oversees one of the leading certification programs in quiltmaking, in which students pay the equivalent of thousands of dollars to achieve a coveted diploma.
Since its adoption by mainstream culture, Japanese quilters have made the craft of quiltmaking their own. Visitors to the 11th Quilt Japan exhibit will see a fascinating collection of unexpected shapes, colors and styles, all a testament to the patience and care of the best Japanese quiltmakers. In addition to the best of Japanese quilting, unique works by artists in eight other countries are included as part of this exhibit.
Virtual tour of 11th Quilt Japan exhibit: http://www.quiltmuseum.org/on-exhibit-june-2013.html
About the National Quilt Museum
The Museum is the world's largest and most prestigious museum devoted to quilts and fiber art. A destination for art enthusiasts worldwide, annually the Museum welcomes visitors from all 50 U.S. states and over 40 foreign countries from every continent. The Museum's onsite and travelling exhibits are viewed by over 110,000 people per year. In addition, over 6,000 youth and adults participate in the Museum's educational opportunities on an annual basis. The Museum is located in a 27,000-square-foot facility in historic downtown Paducah, Kentucky.
Susan Edwards, Marketing Director
National Quilt Museum
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SOURCE National Quilt Museum