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Bedcovers and American design explored at Allentown Art Museum


Two special exhibitions inspired by the Allentown Art Museum’s own collection highlight textiles from around the world and the roots of American design.

Both exhibitions opened this week and continue through Sept. 12.

“Sleep Tight! Bedcovers and Hangings from Around the World” uses the bedroom as a starting place to tell stories about daily life, labor, kinship, and migration across four continents and four centuries.

Historically, people invested hours in decorating bedcovers, bed tents, and bed curtains with designs that show family and community ties along with cultural identity. Their large scale demanded hours of work but also offered a canvas for remarkable creativity.

“Sleep Tight!” brings together textile masterpieces such as embroidered suzanis from Central Asia, hand-painted Japanese futon covers, and Pennsylvania-German quilts to illuminate global traditions.

“Roots: Sources for American Art and Design” explores art from three groups: the Shakers, a religious sect; the quilters of Gee’s Bend, an African American community in Alabama; and Native American artists from the Sioux and Haida cultures.

See their art displayed alongside other works that show the influence – and appropriation – of their traditions in American art and design. Along with textiles and a Will Barnet painting from the Allentown Art Museum’s collection are Native pieces from the Trout Gallery at Dickinson College and quilts, Shaker furniture, and sculpture from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“Roots” is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative.

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