Curator stitches quilts ‘full circle’

Curator stitches quilts ‘full circle’

Elaborate and colorful quilts hang in the Good Library art gallery as part of a new show.  Photo by Julia Baker.

Elaborate and colorful quilts hang in the Good Library art gallery as part of a new show. Photo by Julia Baker.

Rebecca Haarer, an art education alumna of Goshen College, will present her collection of Amish and Mennonite quilts in an exhibit in the Good Library Gallery, beginning this Sunday.

Haarer owns an antiques shop in Shipshewana and buys and sells quilts. She has one of the largest collections of Amish folk arts.

Entitled “Full Circle: Old and New Quilts and Quilters,” the exhibit will feature three categories of quilts and quilters that Haarer found in the community: the Elders, the Insiders and the Outsiders.

The Elders are old Amish and Mennonite quilts that Haarer collected from the community since the 1970s.

Edith Shanholt, lifelong resident of Elkhart and LaGrange counties, represents the Insiders. Shanholt was raised within the Mennonite tradition of quilt-making, but her more recent designs show the influence of other traditions.

The Outsiders are represented by Claire Baker, who recently moved to this area from California, due largely to the strong quilt-making culture here.

The exhibit includes eight antique Amish quilts from Haarer’s collection and ten quilts each by Shanholt and Baker.

Shanholt and Baker are members of local quilt guilds and attend “Dear Jane” meetings in Shipshewana, which attract visitors nationwide and overseas.

Haarer said, “The many groups and individual quilt makers who journey here create an ever-expanding full circle with one another and with our heritage.”

The gallery will be part of the larger “Quilt Gardens Tour,” sponsored by the Elkhart County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, beginning in June. In addition to the exhibit, Goshen College will reinstall its quilt mural on the west wall of Newcomer Center in June.

“I dedicate this exhibit to the past and present quilters of our community,” Haarer said, “to Brenda Papadakis, quilt researcher and author of Dear Jane; and to members of our community who are unaware of the gems that come and go in this rich sub-culture of quilt making, but who nevertheless benefit from it in subtle, positive ways.”

The exhibit will remain in the Good Library Gallery until Aug. 14. There will be an opening reception in the gallery on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

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Written by Alysha Landis

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