University Museum Welcomes Contemporary Quilting Art

OXFORD, Miss. – The 19 quilts on display at the University of Mississippi Museum through July 6 do not fit the mold of traditional quilting art. At first glance, you may not even realize they are quilts.

“The interesting thing about these quilts is that they are almost exclusively artistic statements and not very functional,” said Albert Sperath, museum director. “Some are oddly shaped, some utilize photographic imagery and some make social statements.”

The collection comprises quilts from the U.S., New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
It includes works such as “It’s Only a Leaf,” by Missouri artist Pam Rupert, a colorful hand-stitched quilt featuring the artist’s image after an encounter with poison ivy, and “Red Wave,” a quilt by Australian artist Dianne Firth, which, after close inspection, reveals itself to be four smaller quilts covered in horizontal waves that fit together in one liquid motion.

“The Space Between” by Derra Crosby of Savannah, Ga., is made of multiple fabrics and challenges most traditional concepts of quilt art, as it captures the shape of the space between two people lying in bed.


It’s Only a Leaf,’ by Missouri artist Pam Rupert, is one of the 19 colorful quilts in ‘Quilt National ’07,’ on display through July 6 at University Museum. UM photo by Harry Briscoe.

Produced by the Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center in Athens, Ohio, the collection is one of three contemporary quilt exhibits traveling the country. The exhibition, “Quilt National ’07”, was juried from more than 500 artists from 45 states and 19 countries, and many of the quilts have won various awards, according to the organization’s Web site,

“What strikes me deeply is the overwhelming number of quilts which embody a strong point of view, both visually and conceptually,” said Jason Pollen, Quilt National ’07 juror. “Sometimes humorous, sometimes profoundly introspective, sometimes somewhere in between, the majority speak, sing, shout or whisper with individual voices, almost all worthy of listening to, as well as looking at.”

Sperath said the collection is an example of the changes in the world of quilting art in the last 30 years. The museum also has on display traditional Southern quilts from its permanent collection to illustrate the contrast between the two art forms.

The museum, at Fifth Street and University Avenue, is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. There is no charge for admission.

For more information or for assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7073. To learn more about the University Museum and Historic Houses, visit