Values such as 'making-do' and 'necessity' have been projected onto 19th century quiltmakers, but this demeaning idea has got to be re-evaluated. Nineteenth century women had access to a wide array of inexpensive materials as well as exhibition space in the form of huge well-attended fairs for their quilt art. It is my thesis that 19th century quiltmakers were artists and knew themselves to be. It's true that formal art education was not easily available to all women but I would suggest that it's also true that many of those women preferred (as I do) to work with cloth and thread.
"If trends in visual and cultural studies and the so-called 'new art history' truly aim to revolutionize an understanding of the past, the aspirations and cultural productions of those women who worked in media heretofore outside the purview of mainstream art history - cloth and thread - must be taken into account." Janet Catherine Berlo