American Quilt Study Group: History in the Making

Quilt enthusiasts and scholars gathered for the American Quilt Study Group Seminar in San Diego, where the history of quilts in California was uncovered.

Author: Casey Gale       

American Quilt Study Group Seminar 2022

Date: Sept. 28–Oct. 2, 2022
Place: Wyndham San Diego Bayside San Diego, California
Attendees: 170

Illustration by Carmen Segovia

This group is cut from the same cloth: Quilt researchers, quiltmakers, professionals in women’s studies, museum curators, quilt appraisers, art history professionals, antique dealers, and collectors gather annually for the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) seminar. The event brings enthusiasts and scholars together for a long weekend of quilt study, appreciation, and discussion.

And study is indeed woven into the fabric of this event with a number of “study center” breakout sessions in which members discuss quilt history research and analysis.

“The 2022 seminar focused on many different topics,” Carrie Dell, executive director of AQSG, told Convene, “but there was a theme that resonated with the history of quilts and quilt study in California,” she said, in honor of the seminar’s host location, San Diego. This year, topics included “San Diego’s Historic Treasure: The Machado Quilt,” “Her Name, Her Life: Researching the Names on a Signature Quilt,” and “Sold: The Complicated Presence of Quilts in Fine Art.”

Paper presentations are “the heart of the seminar,” Dell said. Research from the papers is published in the American Quilt Study Group’s annual scholarly journal, Uncoverings. Paper presentations this year included “The Landscape of the Modern Quilt Movement, 1995–2020,” “Influence and Inspiration: The Indianapolis Star Quilt Contests,” and “Jelly Rolls and Layer Cakes: The Rise of Pre-Cut Fabrics.”

In Stitches

Pre-conference, the seminar offers attendees tours of museums and private collections—this year, tours included stops at the Mingei International Museum, known for its displays of folk art, craft, and design, and Visions Museum of Textile Art.

During the event, one evening is set aside for “Show and Tell,” during which “AQSG members are encouraged to show a quilt of their choosing from their personal collection,” Dell said. Here, attendees share antique quilts, quilts they’ve made themselves, and “just weird quilts that got many laughs from the audience,” Dell said, adding that finding mistakes in quilts can be “joyful” for quilt historian. “It reinforces the humanity in creating an object of such craft and detail.”

Casey Gale is managing editor at Convene.

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