Playing with a Full Deck is a collection of 54 art quilts, each depicting a single deck of the card. The works were created by 56 artists (two of the quilts were created by spouses working as a team). The array of artists happily ensured a variety of styles, techniques, innovations, and aesthetics that, as the catalog proclaimed, provide a snapshot of the medium of art quilting in the late 20th century.
Like all fine art, the works prompt questions and elicit emotions. The series evokes the full human experience, from joy, whimsy, and nostalgia to grief, struggle, and loss. Even America’s favorite pastime, baseball, gets a cameo. Artists whose names are now synonymous with the modern art quilt movement, such as Carolyn Mazloomi, lent their talents to this audacious group show that was coordinated by artist and curator Sue Pierce.
Playing with a Full Deck was first exhibited at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, and then traveled the United States for several years as a part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) program. In the Foreword to the exhibition catalog, the Renwick’s Curator-in-Charge, Michael W. Monroe, noted that the quilts’ “diminutive size” helped the viewer understand that these artworks were not intended for sleeping or warmth. Decades later, the art-loving public is no longer surprised to see textile art in different sizes and shapes, including three-dimensional works. Playing with a Full Deck accomplished its goal of increasing the public’s awareness and appreciation of the art quilt.
The full collection is available to view online. A portion of the collection is on view at the Museum.
Katherine Brainard - Eight of Clubs
Visions Museum of Textile Art
2825 Dewey Rd., Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92106