The Western Illinois Museum is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit that showcases the artistry of local, prize-winning quilter Millie Sorrells. In 2022, Millie donated a number of her quilts to the Western Illinois Museum with the intent of having a selection of her work remain in her hometown. The exhibit provides an opportunity to view her quilts over the next few months. Three quilts will be on view at a time with new quilts being installed on August 7th and September 18th. Please plan a return visit to enjoy these works of art.
Quilts often tell stories, each as compelling and distinct as its maker. The exhibit starts with a look at early American textiles, where the practice of expressing the American story through fabric began. The exhibit starts with the story of textiles in North America and the need for simple utilitarian items. The colonists, much like Millie, quickly found the potential of fabric as a form of expression. They used quilts to mark historical events or to advocate for change -mostly from the hands of women. Over time, as quilt styles responded to changes in fabric production, sewing equipment, and even cultural norms, it was not surprising that quilts found their way to museum walls and became art. Looking closely at the story of that transition sheds light on the power of fabric to carry our history, while providing a way for artistic expression –by many who did not have access to artistic training. Quilts continue to be a relevant and impactful way to connect with humanity.
Over 40 years ago, after making her first quilt for a bed, Millie quickly realized the creative possibilities a needle, some thread, and fabric held. Even after taking painting and drawing classes, quilting was where she found an outlet to express her vision of putting color, shapes, and patterns together in new ways. Her ability to focus, and dedicate hours to detailed work in order to realize her ideas, led to award-winning quilts that have been seen across the United States.
Millie is a charter member of the American Quilter's Society, past president of the Land of Lincoln Quilters, as well as belonging to two other quilt guilds. She shares her passion for quilting through workshops, lectures, and trunk shows that, along with prize money, cover the costs of her work as a professional quilter. In addition to the Western Illinois Museum, Millie’s quilts are in the permanent collections of the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Illinois, the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, and the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts, in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.
Special thanks to the Museum’s team of volunteers for research and installation assistance goes to Sandi Bolster, Dona Lantz, Callabria Putrino, Bob Scott, Millie Sorrells, and collection manager, Karen Mencel. This program is funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, with additional funding from an Illinois Humanities Council grant and from the State of Illinois American Rescue Plan Act.
The Western Illinois Museum is a non-profit organization celebrating and nurturing the history, culture, and traditions of McDonough County, and is quickly becoming a vibrant community hub that features exhibits, an open collection, lectures, music, and other programs in a historic building. The Museum is located at 201 S. Lafayette Street, one block south of Macomb’s Courthouse Square.
A full schedule of events can be found at wimuseum.org or follow us on social media @wimuseum. For further information, call 309-837-2750, text 309-837-2613, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXHIBIT IS OPEN MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY ONLY