By BECCA KRAYBILL
The upcoming Goshen College exhibit “Inherited Quilts” is designed to honor the tradition of Mennonite women meeting regularly to make quilts for relief and service projects, and includes antique quilts that have been passed down through generations.
The display will be in the Goshen College Good Library Gallery from Sunday to July 12. An opening reception will take place in the Good Library Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.
The tradition began in 1916-17 with the organization of the Women’s Mission and Service Commission (WMSC), which gave a church organizational focus and sanction to women’s domestic folk arts, especially the making of quilts. In 2003, WMSC and its successor organizations morphed into Mennonite Women USA.
The exhibit features vintage and antique quilts, mostly created by Mennonite and Amish quilters. The quilts have been inherited by members of the group Mennonite Women, who meet monthly at College Mennonite Church in Goshen to quilt and do other handwork for charitable causes.
At their regular meetings on the first Thursday of every month, the women engage in many different activities and handcrafts, including crochet, embroidery, knotting comforters, recycling prescription bottles and postage stamps, making boxes out of greeting cards, and cutting and sewing school bags. But quilting, whether for the Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale or other charities, is still a dominant expressive form for the group.
“Most of the quilters in Mennonite Women learned their skill from a previous generation of mothers, grandmothers, aunts and neighbors,” said Ervin Beck, retired professor of English and exhibit organizer. “This exhibit documents that origin by displaying quilts — full-size, crib, doll — made by ancestors one, two or three generations earlier who taught and inspired today’s quilters. Some of the quilts are in pristine condition, some are used. Some are stunning in design, others merely beautiful.
“All invoke deep feelings in their owners as they preserve memories of beloved friends and relatives and serve as visual documents of family history,” Beck said.
The show will also display quilting accessories and templates and an antique paint-decorated blanket chest from Madison Township.
The exhibit committee includes Joy Hess, Rebecca Sommers, Barbara Smucker and Ervin Beck, with Rebecca Haarer of Shipshewana consulting. The exhibit is sponsored by the college’s Mennonite-Amish Museum Committee.
The Good Library Gallery, located on the lower level of the Harold and Wilma Good Library on the campus of Goshen College, is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 3 to 11 p.m. on Sunday. Hours vary during academic breaks, summer and holidays. For gallery hours, call 574-535-7418.