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Unpacking Collections: The Legacy of Cuesta Benberry, An American Quilt Scholar

 

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spaPhoto of Unpacking Collections title Panel
     
Photo of About this exhibit text panel   Photo of Why MSU does the exhibit text panel
     
Photo of Who was Cuesta text panel
     
Photo of Lady's Shoe Quilt  

Lady’s Shoe Quilt
Fanny Cork
ca. 1890
Grand Rivers, Kentucky
92 1/2" x 67"
MSUM #2008:119.2

Fanny Cork was Cuesta’s husbands’s grandmother. Cuesta believed that Fanny cut the shoe shapes without using a pattern. The Payless Shoe Company used this quilt in an advertising campaign.

     
Photo of On Becoming a Collector of Quilt History text panel
     
Photo of WPA Tulip quilt  

W.P.A Tulip
Minnie Benberry
ca. 1930
Kentucky
63" x 74"
MSUM #2008:119.3

Minnie Benberry was Cuesta’s mother-in-law. During the Great Depression, the government hired artists and craftspersons to make quilts as a part of the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.). Cuesta discovered that a W.P.A. social worker working in rural western Kentucky gave this quilt’s tulip pattern to quilters in the region. The farm families, scattered over a wide area, were unaware that other families had received the same pattern. When the women gathered in the spring at the churchyard to quilt their tops they were surprised that they each had used the same pattern. They decided to name the pattern “W.P.A. Tulip.”

     
Photo of On Becoming a Collector of Quilt History text panel
     

Photo of Friendship Quilt

  Friendship Quilt
Cassie Cavanaugh, St. Louis, MO, St. Louis Star
Mary Conroy, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, Canadian Quilt logo
Annette Amann, St. Louis, MO, Indiana Rose
Letha Rice, Leavenworth, KS, Kansas Troubles
Mary Schafer, Flushing, MI, Love Apple
Louis Mueller, St. Louis, MO, St. Louis Star
Marie Shirer, Lawrence, KS, Vine of Friendship
Doris Miller, Baldwin City, KS, Publisher's Sunflower
Evelyn Brown, Gainesville, FL, Bouquet for Cuesta (original design)
Shirley Hedman, Schenectady, NY, Pennsylvania Dutch peace and love design
Mary Ghormley, Lincoln, NE, Nebraska Windmill
Callie Olson, Osage City, KS, Kansas Dugout (hearts in corners signify love of home and family, love of friends,
love of quilting and love of life)
Joyce Gross, Mill Valley, CA, Hawaiian pattern
Ruth Snyder, Independence, KS, Rosebud Wreath
Helen Ericson, Emporia, KS, Sweetheart Rose
Dolores Hinson, Austin, TX, modern Broderie PerseNancy Bradford Garver, Schenectady, NY, Springtime
Suellen Meyer, Creve Couer, MO, Little Red Schoolhouse (referencing Cuesta as a teacher)
Bonnie Leman, Wheatridge CO, Pineapple
Ione McIntyre, Bemidji, MN, original design (open book for history and reading)
Chris Wolf Edmonds, Lawrence, KS, original design (sun peeking out from under clouds with a silver lining over a patchwork quilt)
Carol Crabb, Columbia, MO, replica of Bertha Stenge's Noah's Ark
Barbara Brackman, Lawrence, KS, St. Louis StarLouise Townsend, Denver, CO, Cluster of Lillies (Kansas City Star Pattern)
Barbara Bannister, Alanson, MI, Star Dust
Marge Ragle, Lawrence, KS, original design of variation of Sunbonnet Sue
Liz Rushing, Picayune, MS, "The Siblings" (from Workbasket)
Joyce Aufderheide, New Ulm, MN, her logo featuring Hands All Around quilt
Elaine Sparlin, Lenexa, KS, original design
Mary Borkowski, Dayton, OH, abstract flower design
Frances Noack, St. Louis, MO, Iris
Shirley Conlon, San Diego, CA, Star
Betty Hagerman, Baldwin City, KS, Sunbonnet Sue
Edna Ford, Louisville, KY, Souvenir of Friendship (from Hearth & Home)
Jean Ameduri, St. Louis, MO, color spectrum with sunset
Ruby Hinson Duncan, Imoboden, AK, Butterfly
Denise Poepsel, St. Louis, MO, Monkey Wrench
Enola M. Gish, Baldwin City, KS, Conventional Lily
Loretta Harturp, Kirkwood, MO, Dutch Doll
Sally Garoutte, Mill Valley, CA, Star on a String
Quilted by Betty Hagermann
1979
86" x 98"
MSUM #2008:119.11

This quilt was coordinated by Betty Hagerman and Helen Ericson who contacted friends of Cuesta to obtain the quilt blocks. It is a "who's who" of quiltmakers and quilt historians, past and present. Cuesta, said,“Because so many "famous quilt people" contributed blocks, people often called it the "celebrity" quilt. I do know the quilt receives more invitations than I do!"

A memorable part of Cuesta’s legacy was her generosity in sharing her knowledge and her research collections with both established and emerging scholars, collectors, and museum professionals. She served as mentor and friend to anyone who showed a serious desire to engage in research on quilt history. Of her work, Cuesta once said, “If I try to say what about my quilt career has been the greatest I’ll say it’s the friends I’ve made.”
 
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