Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
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St. Lawrence County Barn Quilts

St. Lawrence County Barn Quilts

February 29-October 24, 2020



About the exhibition:

 Watch videos about this exhibition here.

This exhibition features the varied and vibrant barn quilts as well as the people, projects, and stories that help make up the growing barn quilt movement in St. Lawrence County. Over the past several years, hundreds of these colorful painted squares, inspired by traditional quilt patterns, have popped up on barns, homes, town halls, boat houses, and other creative locations around St. Lawrence County and beyond. Ranging dramatically in size, patterns, and imagery, they are the creations of local artists and community members taking part in a grassroots arts and economic development movement. For many, the barn quilts they make or display say something about their interests, values, family life and history, or other personal experience. Often, making barn quilts is a way to celebrate local heritage, identity, and community, to nurture local pride, and to encourage investment in beautifying and maintaining local properties. They are also often part of organized community efforts to draw tourism to small towns around the region. There are two extensive, well-established Barn Quilt Trails already in St. Lawrence County in Colton and Hammond, with another underway in Wanakena. And whether on their own or as part of a community effort, people around the county and beyond are making more every day. The “St. Lawrence County Barn Quilts” exhibition showcases not only an array of remarkable barn quilts and related materials, but the story of this local grassroots arts and economic development movement and the people who have inspired and been inspired by it.

The exhibition was curated by Camilla Ammirati, TAUNY’s Director of Research and Programs, and Ruth McWilliams, a leader in the barn quilt movement. The exhibition builds on the 2019 “Barn Quilt Tourism Project,” in which TAUNY worked with community partners to celebrate and encourage barn quilt activity in St. Lawrence County and beyond. In addition to the Towns of St. Lawrence County Barn Quilt Mural project and the call for artists to produce new 4’x4’ Barn-Quilt-Inspired works in their own medium, the project included a range of other exciting elements including a series of summer “Barn Quilt Parties” in green spaces around the county, a pilot tour of an area barn quilt trail, and development of an online map on which people in and around St. Lawrence County are encouraged to post their own barn quilts and the stories that go with them. Funded by a New York State Council on the Arts Regional Economic Development (REDC) grant, TAUNY conducted the 2019 project in partnership with the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, the St. Lawrence County Arts Council, the Hammond Barn Quilt Trail Committee, the Town of Colton Tourism & Beautification Committee, and other community partners.

Learn more about the area’s existing Barn Quilt Trails through the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce at Find online listings of barn quilts throughout the county--and how to enter a listing for your own!--on the St. Lawrence County Barn Quilt Map at

Opening at the same time will be the “Folkstore Artist Spotlight: Barn Quilts and Beyond,” in which barn quilts and an array of related works will be available for sale throughout the time the exhibition is up.

The “St. Lawrence County Barn Quilts” exhibit and 2019 Barn Quilt Tourism Project have been made possible by a Regional Economic Development Council Grant through the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.



Top image: barn quilt squares from the Towns of St. Lawrence County Barn Quilt Mural (designed by Ruth McWilliams).

Bottom image: James Gonzalez holding his 4'x4' Barn-Quilt-Inspired New Work made for the exhibit, a barn quilt by Carol Musser Rose at Swing Time Mini Golf (Potsdam), a barn quilt by Evelyn Saphier, barn quilt tour at The Iva Smith Memorial Gallery (Hammond), The Towns of St. Lawrence County Barn Quilt Mural (designed by Ruth McWilliams), Ann Fenlong painting a barn quilt in TAUNY's Barn Quilt Studio.

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