Twenty two quilts with accompanying art work are on display on the Third Floor WestRock Room of The Historic Masonic Theatre during the Arts Community Celebration. The Women in History Quilt & Art Exhibit opens on Friday, September 15 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m, Saturday,
September 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on Sunday, September 17 from noon to 2:00 p.m. The exhibit is free of charge.
The majority of the quilts were designed and made by international quilt designer, author and teacher, Kaye England. The twenty quilts honor women in history who left an indelible mark on the country and the world. They include Martha Washington, Helen Taft, Betsy Ross, Dolley Madison, Harriet Tubman, Frances Cleveland, Lucille Ball, Amelia Earhart, Carry Nation, Sarah Breedlove “Madam C. J. ” Walker, Priscilla Alden, Abigail Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Grace Coolidge, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Julia Ward Howe, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Louisa May Alcott, and Helen Keller. When asked what started Kaye England on her quest to design quilt blocks for famous women in history, she said, “In researching existing quilt blocks that contained famous/historical women, I realized there were only a few women that had been recognized with a quilt block design. Being a history lover, this opened the door for me to choose women whose contributions I admired. To make an entire quilt, I needed 12 quilt blocks and 12 women in history. I wound up making not only the quilt honoring twelve different women but I also made a quilt to honor each of the twelve. That led me to a second project with 12 more women, twelve more quilts and two books titled, Voices of the Past, Volume One and Two! I’m even considering a third! When do you quit!!!”
Fourteen pieces of art, including a signed letter by Helen Keller, accompany the majority of the quilts with the most valuable piece being a signed photo of Amelia Earhart. The entire collection of quilts, art, and several first-edition books about the women in the collection was donated to the Theatre and will be auctioned in March with all proceeds going to the Theatre. Twenty antique quilts made by hand in the 1800’s will join the Women in History Quilt and Art Exhibit once the display pieces are ready.
Kaye visited the Alleghany Highlands as a presenter at the Heritage Day Festival in 2016 and has returned in subsequent years to teach Quilt Retreats in the Historic Masonic Theatre. Kaye comments, “I’ve visited the Alleghany Highlands area several times–on my first trip I had the experience of getting a tour of a neglected and deteriorating Theatre by my friend, John Hillert. I made all the oooh and ahhh sounds while thinking, ‘Good luck, Buddy…you have a whale of a task ahead of you’, and secretly thinking, ‘this will never happen’”.
“However, the area intrigued me because of the possibilities and the next time I visited Clifton Forge was as a guest speaker for the ‘Heritage Day’ event in the newly restored, gorgeous Historic Masonic Theatre. And on one of my visits, I attended a poignant ‘Celebration of Life Service’ for John in the Theatre Auditorium that is named for him.
“At that time, Gayle Hillert and I planned the first Quilt Retreat–the building lends itself to small conferences and seminars. I’ll be teaching my fifth Retreat in March and my feelings about the potential of this area have not changed. With the creativity of the people, the volunteerism, the arts and crafts venues, this area seems to be on the cusp of something amazing. I’ve traveled all over the world and I’ve seen small towns like Paducah, Kentucky and Sister, Oregon totally reinvent themselves and become thriving areas because they focused on what they knew and did what they did best–in their case, quilting. The key is having a vision, a plan and people to implement.”
Kaye will be teaching two Welcome to Spring Quilt Retreats in March. Quilters from all over the United States attend the Kaye England Retreats with approximately 30 % being local attendees. The first Retreat is March 1, 2 and 3. The second Retreat is for Quilt Shop owners and is March 5 (set up) 6, 7 and 8. An early bird registration fee is available through September 30. The Women in History Quilt & Art auction and the Antique Quilt auction will follow the second retreat.
The Women in History Quilt & Art Exhibit will be on display several times between September 15, 2023 and March 1, 2024. A Chuck Almarez Photo Exhibit will also be on display on the second floor of the Theatre in the Chuck Almarez Gallery during the Arts Community Celebration during the same dates and times as the Women in History Quilt & Art Exhibit.
To register for the Retreat and for more information, please visit historicmasonictheatre.com or contact the Theatre at 540 862 5655.