New collection of inherited quilts displayed at Goshen College library gallery

“Dutchman’s Puzzle,” Amish, c. 1920, made by Susie Stutzman Kaufman, Plain City, OH, inherited by Katie Eash Bontrager.

Art exhibit: “Inherited Quilts 2: Clinton Frame Mennonite Church”
Reception date and time: Sunday, March 13, 3-5 p.m. (exhibit open March 13 through July 1, 2016)
Location: Goshen College’s Harold and Wilma Good Library Gallery
Cost: Free and open to the public
Sponsor: The Mennonite-Amish Museum Committee of Goshen College
Curators: Ervin Beck, Rebecca Haarer, Joy Hess, Barb Smucker, Rebecca Sommers

A new exhibit of inherited quilts from members of Clinton Frame Mennonite Church in Goshen will open at the Goshen College Library Gallery, with a public reception on March 13 from 3-5 p.m. The exhibit will continue through July 1, 2016.

Like the first “Inherited Quilts” exhibit in 2013, this exhibit honors the long tradition of Mennonite women who make quilts for relief and service projects. The first exhibit featured quilts from College Mennonite Church. This time around it features quilts from Clinton Frame Mennonite Church in rural Goshen.

In 1916-17, the Women’s Mission and Service Commission (WMSC) gave a church sanction and organizational focus to women’s domestic folk arts, especially the making of quilts. In 2003, WMSC and its successor organizations became Mennonite Women USA. The antique and vintage Mennonite and Amish quilts in this exhibit honor the continuing handwork of women at Clinton Frame Mennonite Church.

At their regular meetings on the first Wednesday of every month, quilting remains their main project. The quilts go to charity auctions, especially the Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale, but also others at Gospel Echoes Church, Bethany and Clinton Christian Schools, as well as Adriel School and Black Swamp in Ohio. Some men join them in making prayer shawls and school, hygiene and relief kits for Mennonite Central Committee. They support the “Dress a Girl and Doll Around the World” projects. They have also made furnishings for Amigo Centre and Goshen Cancer Center.

Most of the quilters in Mennonite Women at Clinton Frame learned their skill from a previous generation of mothers, grandmothers, aunts and neighbors. This exhibit documents that origin by displaying quilts of various sizes 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 very 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.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Mennonite-Amish Museum Committee. The exhibit is open during library hours, which vary throughout the school year. See the Good Library website for current hours.