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American history on display in Clay Center quilt exhibit

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Unfold seven decades of stories with 25 historic quilts from across the country in "American Quilts in the Modern Age, 1870 – 1940" opening Dec. 21 at the Clay Center.

Featuring examples of pieced block, Crazy style, Colonial Revival and one-of-a-kind innovations, these traditional and modern quilt designs stitch together the rapid societal and technological shifts in American life between the Civil War and World War II.

Explore works of art that illustrate the struggle between America's unprecedented transformation into a modern, industrialized nation and its nostalgia for a simpler time in the display from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Clay Center is hosting the exhibit through a partnership with the Kanawha Valley Quilters Guild. Guild member Juanita Reed brought the idea to the Center in 2010, and the two worked together to bring it to life.

"I always had a dream of bringing a quilt exhibit to Charleston to let people see how beautiful and interesting quilts could be," she said in a release. "The Clay Center seemed like the perfect place to make that happen, so I set up a meeting with the curator and it went from there."

Along with securing the national exhibit, the Guild helped organize the Center's "WV Contemporary Quilt Invitational," an exhibit of award-winning creations from across the state that is currently on display. Both exhibits will remain open through March 30.

In addition, the Clay Center and the Guild collaborated with Friends of WV Culture and History to schedule free lectures and a workshop on quilting that will begin in February. Bring in a quilt of your own and discover its history using color, craftsmanship and technique with the help of an expert in a special workshop Feb. 9 at 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. Space is limited, so register today at 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.org.

Also in the art gallery, see whimsically designed and decorated trees and original works by emerging West Virginia artists in "Traditions: A Celebration of Heritage," the Center's annual holiday exhibit, open only through December 30.

Museum gallery admission is free for museum members or just $6 for children and $7.50 for adults.

For information on these and other Clay Center exhibits and programs, visit www.theclaycenter.org or call 304-561-3570.