Author: Rachel Ward Sepielli

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Image features: Dark yellow fabric with vertical columns of rounded geometric shapes in neat clusters, each with a zigzag border and filled with a smiling face. Each face is filled with red and orange polka dots. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Sunshine Smile
Gay Façade, a textile design featuring whimsical line drawings of geometrically shaped suns with smiling faces, was designed by John Hull for Associated American Artists. It was produced in multiple colorways, another of which (1994-38-8) is currently in the museum’s collection. In this version, suns are outlined in black and partially filled by red and...
Image features: Dark gray and orange fish swim up and down on a purple and light gray ground. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Natural Talent
Behold how black skimmers fish for their finny food. As the tide falls and the moon rises, a squadron of skimmers shimmers over the glassy cove, shallow-plowing the shallows with their razor-thin lower mandibles, scooping up minnows by the many from the mini furrows. It’s a little like seeing with a string, and you have...
Image features: Quilt cover for a single bed. Red ground with design of stylized sunflowers and four groups of children engaged in reading, singing in a chorus with the red kerchiefs of the Young Pioneers, and dancing, some in ethnic costume. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Young Pioneers
The Young Pioneers of China, founded in 1949 as a Communist group for children aged six to fourteen, flies a red flag with a triangular cutout on its right edge. The group’s Constitution stipulates that members wear red scarves knotted around their necks to correspond with the flag’s missing section. This quilt cover depicts children...
Image features: Quilt cover for a single bed. Bright red ground is printed with dahlias that resemble the paper flowers that were awarded to workers. In the center is a yellow basket with tassels swinging and with three yellow-green mangoes. Behind the basket is the imperial ornamental pillar (huabiao) which is a symbol of political authority that stands in front of Tiananmen Gate. To the left is a drum, cymbals and a musical instrument called an erhu. Behind that motif is a building in which the mango possibly was exhibited. On the right is a bedroll and satchel with the Highest Directive sticking out. Colored balloons float above. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Gift Basket
This quilt cover features a tasseled basket containing three yellow-green mangoes that refer to the mangoes that Mao Zedong (1893-1976) gave to workers. As leader of China’s Communist Party, Mao received a basket of mangoes as a gift from the visiting Pakistani foreign minister in August 1968. Mao re-gifted the non-native delicacies to a group...
Image features: Bright green synthetic silk quilt cover with a monochrome damask design of a large torch resting on a mountain that represents Yan'an, the northern Shaanxi province town where Mao Zedong and followers regrouped at the end of the Long March. To the right of the torch are two blossoms (possibly hibiscus). The torch motif alternates with mountains topped by the Yan'an pagoda radiating a halo of light. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
The Long March
In 1934, after seven years of civil war between China’s Nationalist and Communist parties, the latter was nearing defeat. Nationalist forces had repeatedly encircled Communist headquarters, and the recently elected Mao Zedong had been removed from his position as chairman. Under new leadership, the waning Communist army broke through its enemy’s fortifications in secret. Thus...
Model Citizens
This cotton quilt cover is based on The Legend of the Red Lantern, one of the Eight Model plays promoted during the Cultural Revolution in China, as they promoted the ideals of communism. (By the end of the Cultural Revolution, there were 18 approved plays and ballets.) The plot of The Legend of the Red...
The World on a String
Jacqueline Groag was one of the United Kingdom’s most influential post-war textile designers. She began her career at the famed Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna before designing and producing hand-printed textiles for some of the top Parisian fashion houses, including Chanel, Lanvin, Worth, Schiaparelli, and Poiret. She was also one of only a few of the...
A Magical Era
Hans Moller, the German-born abstractionist known as a colorist, brought his predilection for vivid hues to his textile designs. His work was part of an assortment of imaginative midcentury designs produced by M. Lowenstein & Sons in partnership with Associated American Artists, a collective dedicated to creating accessible art. In Jumbo Junket, Moller’s circus-themed border...
An Epic Story
In 2005, The New York Times reported that expressionist artist Vincent Malta, age 83, was beginning to achieve success in making a living as an artist.(1) A longtime teacher at the Art Students League of New York whose paintings appeared in galleries from time to time, Malta filled the gaps in his showing career by...