Mary Gasperik Quilts the First Private Collection on Quilt Index
| Asheville, North
Carolina, February 12, 2009-One day, quilt lovers and historians will be able to
go online to the Quilt Index and visit not just museum quilt collections and
state documentation projects, but also a wide range of private quilt
That future is starting now, with the first-ever posting
of a private quilt collection on the Quilt Index. The more than 80 quilts in
this significant collection were all made by the same gifted quiltmaker,
Hungarian immigrant Mary Gasperik, between 1933 and 1967. An inspiration to
late-bloomers everywhere, Gasperik didn't see or make her first quilt until she
attended the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago in 1933 -- she was 45
The significance of these quilts stems from several factors,
including the chance to observe one quiltmaker's near-total output as she
advanced from a novice quilter to a prizewinning quilt designer. In her online
essay about the collection, historian and project consultant Merikay Waldvogel
says the quilts are fine examples of quilts from an especially rich era of
American quiltmaking. Adding to the value of this archive is the mixture of
supplemental materials online.
"The final result is a nearly total photographic record of one woman's quilts, but also an invaluable
resource of period photographs, newspaper accounts, and quiltmaking ephemera,"
Waldvogel writes (http://www.quiltindex.org/gasperikessay.php).
The collection is worth studying online for the
vibrancy and craftsmanship of the quilts alone, but the Gasperik project also
provides a model for anybody wanting to document family quilts. Susan Salser, a
granddaughter of Mary Gasperik, embarked on a painstaking and years-long search
for materials, tracking down everything from quilts and distant relatives to the
period patterns that inspired her grandmother. This resulted in an unusual
wealth of detail about how and when the various quilts were made, and Salser
contributed essays or extended research notes on 13 of the most significant
quilts in the collection.
Hungarian Harvest Festival One good example is the essay for a quilt
called Hungarian Harvest Festival (pictured above), which Salser said was "the all-time favorite"
of many family members. Here is a link to the full record page on this quilt, including Salser's essay (near the bottom of the page): http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?pbd=quiltiGasperik-a0a0a3-a. For a list of Gasperik quilts whose full records contain essays or extensive research notes by Salser click here.
. 1939-1940. Mary Gasperik. Click here
to view the basic display page about this quilt on the Quilt Index.
"This is a huge and wonderful body
of work that is really a gift that Susan is presenting not only to the Mary
Gasperik families, but to the whole world," says Salser's cousin, Joanne
Gasperik, a quiltmaker herself.
The nonprofit Quilt Index is run in
partnership by the Alliance for American Quilts, Michigan State University Museum and MATRIX - The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences at MSU. The fast-growing Quilt Index now comprises more than 18,000 quilt records, mostly
from museum collections and state quilt documentation projects. Support for the
Mary Gasperik Quilts was provided by The Salser Family Foundation, with
additional in-kind contributions from the Quilt Index partners, Alliance co-founder Shelly Zegart and the project
consultant, Merikay Waldvogel.
Following this landmark documentation,
Quilt Index staff are evaluating this Gasperik pilot project to develop a
process for including additional private quilt collections on the site. Anyone
interested in exploring this possibility should contact Mary Worrall
(Worrall@msu.edu). Application materials are online at http://quiltindex.org/collections.php.
NOTE: For any media interested in
posting images, we suggest one of the 3 quilts considered Mary Gasperik's
"masterpiece quilts." In addition to Hungarian Harvest Festival, mentioned
above, they are:
"Road to Recovery":
"Colonial Quilting Bee":
For more information about the Quilt Index project and partners visit http://www.quiltindex.org/about.php.