First stop today was the International Quilt Study Centre. I had known about this for some years, since the days when I went to quilting retreats in Rolduc in the Netherlands. One of the tutors, the quilter, Michael James was about to begin work at the University here in Lincoln in a leading role, prompting responses from those at the retreat along the lines of "Nebraska?! Really?!" It was about the same time he was starting work on some startling black and white quilts inspired by Russian iconography. I recalled them well and hoped to see some of his work there.
Te Study Centre was a bright modern building, celebrating its tenth anniversary and clearly thriving. We'd arrived in good time for the 11am guided tour and before we went upstairs to meet the docent Lois, we took a look in a couple of the smaller exhibitions.
One such exhibition was of indian quilts and I'll share my favourite here. Undoubtedly from that part of the world, there was all the bling and the colour I associate with India in this one single piece. The other quilts were lovely too.
Molly Anderson's quilts were in the hall upstairs so we could browse them whilst waiting for the tour to begin.
Whilst not my style at all, I admired the way she had combined traditional paper piecing techniques with more free form applique and her use of colour was astounding.
It was time for our tour to begin and first up was the Singular Fascinaion collection.
Much as I'd like to share the whole exhibition, I'll share just our favourites. My Hero would have brought home this masterpiece from 1930-40, made from hundreds of yoyos, all edge to edge, in random fabrics.
Wow. I can't begin to imagine making so many 1" yoyos, even with a Clover gadget!
Someone had creatd a similar work - again, bed sized - but made her yoyos into squares.
My favourite was this one, rather more graphic in design and made of the tiniest triangles. I loved the way the colours had been used and the tonal values appealed to me until I read the website and realised there were hidden images...yes, it's called Birds in the Air!
The next exhibition was of Eiko Okano's work, focusing mainly on food!
Small fun pieces documented a wide variety of foodstuffs and larger, colourful wall hangings were equisitely finished in typical Japanese style.
There were two further exhibitions to see; the first a series of Provencal wholecloth quilts which seemed to confound the group of mostly Americans, for whom this concept appeared to be alien.
The final exhibit was of military quilts, mostly made by soldiers and with the exception of five from the permanent collection here, they were on loan from an Australian collector, Annette Gero
It had been a fascinating visit, though I was surprised that we hadn't seen any contemporary works from the collection.. What about those works by Michael James that I'd hoped to see? Well, it seems as though the thousands of quilts which are conserved here are not frequently shown and it was unlikely that anything in particular could be brought out for li'l ol' me. (I'm probably being unfair there - I'm sure that, if I had made a special request ahead of time, something like that might have been possible, but for now, today, no go)
So we made on to our next planned stop for the day: the State Capitol of Nebraska. It's unusual in not being the general dome and pillared structure of many such buildings we've seen and visited. This Capitol building was designed by Bertram Goodhue, the same architect as the Los Angeles County Library - where Mary is a docent - and so we had particular interest in taking a look around.
First impressions were how dark it was in there!
I looked up into the "tower" to find a dome there and not the fourteen storey tower I expected. this was an internal structure and appeared to be richly coloured - if only the light was better, I might have been able to see it!
Speaking of rich colour, the first thing I spotted was this pair of doors! Wow....
Mind you, I was still seeing quilts.... (on the floor)
We met Ted, our guide, who began by explaining some of the artwork about our heads and suggested we look out for the state symbol of the cornhusk - Nebraska is known as the cornhusk state. There is a wealth of art within the capitol and as with the quilts, I'll share my favourites. First, above, is one of a series of three panels showing scenes from Nebraskan life. this one shows a family of homesteaders greeting friends or family in front of their part-completed sod house. It seemed appropriate, bearing in mind our visit yesterday,
Here too was the first of the cornhusks set in a floor grating, though I'd have missed it had Ted not pointed it out.
As we moved around, we saw the motif was indeed all over the place, including this door panel.
As we walked along the corridor, we caught a glimpse of the dome mosaics too - glorious colour!
We were heading into the House - and as we did, Ted explained that the Nebraskan State government is unicameral. Interesting... It's a fairly plain chamber however, since much of the decorative features in the original plan were left out in order to accommodate the number of seats required.
What would have been the Senate, behind those colourful doors I'd earmarked as soon as we come in the building, was rather grander and based on Indian motifs and patterns. The vaulted roof was particularly lovely, I thought. The chamber is now used for ceremonial occasions and I imagine is much admired by those who attend them.
Ready for another corn husk, on top of the light fitting?
The last place on the guided tour was the Supreme Court.
Here, it was the ceiling which was remarkable. Carved in Massachusetts, it was designed to be as acoustically effective as possible and of course, you can guess what motif featured in the design.
and in the door frame too.
Though that was the end of the formal tour, Ted suggested we take the elevator up to the 14th floor to take a look in the dome at the top of the tower.
Though rather plainer in design than the one on the lower floors, I liked it better, because I didn't feel frustrated by the suggestion of glories I couldn't see!
There's a series of modern murals up here, of which this is one.
On a fine day, the outdoor viewing platform is open, but due to rain showers earlier in the day, it was closed this afternoon.
We rounded off our visit by calling into the State Library, where the librarian was pleased to show us a small treasure: about a square foot of original stencilling on the wall, high above our heads. The rest had been covered by white paint at some point and hopefully, she said, before too long it might all be revealed....budget permitting.
What was, I think, my favourite artwork in the building was in here too. this lovely mural of a young Nebraskan woman and her family looking out over the prairie reminded me so much of the lovely warm, fresh air we'd enjoyed yesterday afternoon. I loved the way her skirt was blowing in the wind and the optimism of the image.
Well, you didn't think I'd leave without one last cornhusk, did you?
or come home without a couple of relatively small purchases?! In the late afternoon, we dropped by the mall, where Chicos were offering 40% off everything, and Bath and Body Works had my favourite product at 75% off. Add that to a few half priced bits and pieces from JoAnns this morning and I'm feeling quite lucky.
Another great day!