Fetes of clay, Hawaiian quilts top exhibits
If you hunger for a taste of Hawaii, here’s a way to satisfy your appetite — and you don’t have to travel far for a seat at the table.
An extensive and rare collection of Hawaiian quilts is showing through Jan. 28 at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts (The Art Center), 1803 N. Seventh St.
This feast for the eyes comes compliments of Henry and Angela Hite of Woody Creek, who find such quilts irresistible.
“Our love of Hawaii and of the Hawaiian people clearly shows in this exhibit” of 28 quilts, Angela Hite says.
First introduced to quilts from the islands in 1981 at the Aspen Center for the Visual Arts, the Hites were intrigued at how a large Queen Emma’s Vase design differed from the other styles in that exhibit.
A year later, during a trip to Kauai, Hawaii, they learned more at the Kauai Museum in Lihue and bought a purple-on-lavender Orchid quilt from Julie Yakimura at the Kapaa Stitchery. Gladys Tasaka spent a year making the quilt.
During the past three decades, the Hites returned to Hawaii annually, seeking quilts and studying them in museums.
Angela Hite describes the process of making traditional Hawaiian quilts as a folding method that duplicates the pattern eight times, then opens into one piece that is appliqued to the bottom fabric.
Often, only two colors are used in a quilt.
Echo or wave quilting stitches surround the main pattern and extend to the outer edge, as though they are waves coming to the shore and echoing the contour of the islands, she says.
Some of the patterns, such as Comb and Fan and Palm Trees, radiate from their centers.
The oldest quilt in the collection is a Flag Quilt of cotton that measures 80 inches square and was made in 1890. It is one of four flag quilts, which are prized by the Hawaiian people. Another of the four is an American flag, constructed like the others. A rarity, this quilt shows 39 stars for the states and dates to circa 1900.
The Art Center exhibit is titled “Colorado Clay Meets Aloha Quilts,” with ceramist and artist-in-residence Terry Shepherd displaying his work along with the textiles.
Shepherd and Henry Hite have been friends since the mid-1970s and share an interest in many art forms. Shepherd extended an invitation to the Hites to combine their passions, and the result is this pairing.
In The Art Center’s newsletter, Shepherd says he is impressed by Henry Hite’s dedication and commitment to collecting, preserving and archiving his quilt collections. Hite not only preserves examples of historical fine folk art, but also supports current folk art in textiles today, Shepherd says.
We are fortunate that both parties have united to show clay pieces and quilts together as beautiful works of fine art.
As for the Hawaiian theme, I can’t promise you’ll be treated to a luau at this exhibition, but you’ll certainly find enough to sink your teeth into.