The New England Quilt Museum is pleased to offer this virtual exhibition of works by Jennifer Regan (1934 – 2016), who created more than one hundred story quilts or “stitched narratives” that incorporate storytelling and representational imagery. One of Regan’s earliest and most profound inspirations was Harriet Powers, former slave and maker of the extraordinary Pictorial Quilt, 1898. Regan writes, “I felt I had found my artistic mother. The total freedom of her imaginings, her love of animals, myths, especially the Creation, inspired me.”
Regan’s stitched narratives originated to cope with personal loss, but over time they expanded beyond her emotional explorations to incorporate a multitude of influences and purposes. Her works intertwine the Italian Renaissance, Freudian psychology, pop culture, religion and poetry to explore her changing role as a woman in society. Many stitched narratives reveal Regan’s profound sense of humor through their playful imagery and language.
Regan explored different compositional structures in her work, such as a series of Greek vessels, Roman-inspired shrines, and Renaissance motifs that depict contemporary subject matter. The concept of home, often the loss of home, is a prominent theme in many of her works. Regan’s journals, handmade books, and writings provide a rare opportunity to know her intentions and explore her worldview.
These works were among 57 on view at the New England Quilt Museum, January 7 – March 13, 2020. Salvaged: The Stitched Narratives of Jennifer Regan was curated by Heather Gring, Archivist at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, SUNY Buffalo.