Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Exhibit comes 'Full Circle' with old and new quilts and quilters

Antique Mennonite and Amish quilts from the collection of Rebecca Haarer (left) will set a historical context for and be displayed alongside of original quilts designed by Edith Shanholt (right), a lifelong resident of Elkhart County, and Claire Baker (center), a new Elkhart County resident and a native of California.

Exhibit: Full Circle – Old and New Quilts and Quilters
Dates: March 29-Aug. 14, 2009
Opening reception: March 29 from 2 to 4 p.m.
Location: The Library Gallery, Harold and Wilma Good Library, Goshen College
Cost: Free and open to the public

GOSHEN, Ind. – Though they did a lot of it, quilting isn't just for Amish and Mennonite women of earlier centuries.

In an exhibit titled "Full Circle: Old and New Quilts and Quilters," antique Mennonite and Amish quilts from the collection of Rebecca Haarer will set a historical context for and be displayed alongside of original quilts designed by Edith Shanholt, a lifelong resident of Elkhart County, and Claire Baker, a new Elkhart County resident and a native of California. The exhibit will be in the Library Gallery of the Goshen College Good Library from March 29 to Aug. 14 and an opening reception for the exhibit will be held March 29 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the gallery.

The exhibit demonstrates continuity in the local tradition, as well as influences to and from quilters who come from around the world to quilt circle gatherings in north central Indiana. On display will be eight Amish quilts from Rebecca Haarer's collection and more than 10 original quilts by both Shanholt, of Elkhart, and Baker, of Middlebury.

"The hometown quilter stands on a bridge between her tradition and the world of new possibilities, thanks to visitors who, ever since the 1970s, have returned as resident quilt makers or gifted teachers," Haarer said. "Students return to their teachers, but have now become teachers themselves. The past becomes new. Yet the new contains within it the past."

The three women got to know one another through the "Dear Jane" quilting group in 1998, which now meets for a bi-annual quilting retreat in Shipshewana, Ind. Online membership in the "Dear Jane" group includes women from other continents. "Each has her own reason for coming, yet each woman leaves with a sense of the local quilt making legacy into which they too have become integrated," said Haarer. "The many groups and individual quilt makers who journey here create an ever-expanding full circle with one another and with our heritage."

On Thursday, April 30 at 7 p.m., Shanholt, Baker and Haarer will talk about their interests in quilts, as quilt makers or collectors, and answer questions about quilts on display. Some topics that will be discussed are Shanholt's trip as a quilting instructor to Mongolia, how to care for and document family quilts and reasons for making a quilt. They also will address the uses of quilts, if quilters consider this work art and what makes a good quilt.

Shanholt said, "Quilt-making has become my creative outlet, literally opening my world. I love the challenge of learning new techniques, entering national and international quilt shows, and entering the quilt publishing world."

The exhibit contributes to the "Quilt Gardens Tour" sponsored by the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau in June through September. After Memorial Day, the original crazy-patch friendship quilt for the Goshen College quilt mural on the west exterior wall of Newcomer Center, part of the Quilt Gardens Tour, will be added to the exhibit.

The Library Gallery, located on the lower level of the Harold and Wilma Good Library on the campus of Goshen College, is open from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 11 p.m. Sunday. However, from July 13 to Aug. 3 the gallery will only be open to planned group tours.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Mennonite-Amish Museum Committee and is curated by Haarer. It is free and open to the public.

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or


Goshen College, established in 1894, is a residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college's Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron's Best Buys in Education, "Colleges of Distinction," "Making a Difference College Guide" and U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" edition, which named Goshen a "least debt college." Visit



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