The spices waft through the air; their scent hits your nose. Walk across the handwoven Oriental rugs, breathe in deeply, exhale slowly, and engage with the newest exhibit at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center (MMCC). The two-gallery exhibit, Along the Spice Route, showcases fiber art quilts inspired by different spices and their countries of origin, weaving together cuisine, history, culture, and art.
Friends and quilters Ann Reardon and Paula Golden initiated the idea while discussing their love of cooking and “the importance and history of the spices that we take for granted in today’s markets” (Golden’s artist statement). They developed the Spice Route Challenge and presented it to quilt guilds near them. The result was that over 40 quilters – most of whom are from Virginia while others live in Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina – participated and created wall quilts, 34 of which are touring around the United States. The exhibit has been displayed in Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, Texas, Georgia, Massachusetts and Colorado. Madison is the final destination of the tour.
MMCC Visual Arts Chairperson Mitzi Prochnow stated, “A former director of MMCC, Lisa Reynolds Hammett, reached out to current Director Kimberly Brown after seeing the exhibit (at an earlier location). When Kim contacted Paula, the exhibit was set to end, but we were able to become their last venue.”
The color choice and patterning of the fabrics, texturing, designs, and craftsmanship provide multiple aspects to engage viewers. In addition, visitors can read statements about each work of art. However, Prochnow has enhanced the exhibit by displaying assorted spices alongside the quilts for a multisensory experience. Even though olfactory as well as visual qualities are utilized in the galleries, it is important to remember not to touch the fabrics as the oils from people’s hands can degrade the material.
The exhibit opened Friday, August 10, and will remain at MMCC through September 16, and some of the quilts are available for sale.
“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” Prochnow stated.
Oriental rugs from Hasan’s Rugs are also displayed throughout the galleries. The rugs will be a part of the upcoming fundraiser Turkish Delights: Rug Show & Sale, November 1-3 in MMCC’s annex.