To Be "High" and "Fine": Quilts, Art, and Power, 1971-1991
Dwyre, Megan Breen
Barkley Brown, Elsa
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This thesis examines the status of quilts in the Western art world from 1971-1991 as point of entry into the complex process of classifying "art." Each chapter focuses on one of four art-world groups that represent the key contributors to the growing debate over quilts as art. Analysis of their strategies reveals the how quilts-as-art proponents advanced multiple agendas. The quilt became a symbol of power: for art museums and curators to demonstrate cultural hegemony, for art critics to legitimize their role as arbiters of taste, for feminist scholars to expose the oppression of women, and for collectors and dealers to enhance their economic and social status. At the dawn of the 1990s, the art world had granted only limited acceptance to quilts. Although the art world's prevailing gender- and class-based hierarchy remained largely intact, quilts' partial move into the art world had implications for the quiltmaking community.