Quilts—America’s great art experiment . . . monumental compositions in color, pattern, geometry, and representation made (mostly) by women over more than three centuries.

The American Folk Art Museum has been at the forefront of the movement to bring recognition to quilts as a major art form with deep roots in American life and experience. The museum’s collection is especially distinctive for unique, highly individualized expressions in this medium that is both yielding and unforgiving, challenging the maker to test the limits imposed by cutting and piecing bits of fabric The museum is renowned for its in-depth holdings of Amish quilts, whitework textiles, double wedding ring, crazy, appliqué quilts, and more. In 2018, the museum received a gift of twenty-one quilts from Werner and Karen Gundersheimer that introduces new patterns into the collection.

Gathered over a period of decades as the couple scoured eastern Pennsylvania, and then the Midwest and Southern United States, the quilts are graphically striking examples that embody what the couple call “wall power.” Packing a tough visual punch, the textiles hold space and defy the deceptive softness of their nature.