The Source for Contemporary Art Quilts, Exhibitions & Appraisals


I am currently offering the following PowerPoint presentations, which are based on my critically acclaimed books. Like my books, my lectures are both visually stunning and richly informative. Each PowerPoint slide lecture runs approximately 45 minutes followed by a question and answer. I also am happy to sign any of my books that attendees want to bring.

Any of the lectures can be expanded into a longer and more intensive seminar program, and I can also work with you to prepare a lecture specific to your programmatic needs and interests. And, if you want to add to the program, I can examine and comment on antique or contemporary quilts that are brought to the event, either privately or in a group show-and-tell format.

I have lectured at the American Museum of Folk Art, the New York Historical Society, the de Young Museum of Fine Art, the Kentucky Art Museum, the Washington State History Museum, the Katonah (NY) Museum of Art, the Whatcom Museum (Bellingham, WA), the New England Quilt Museum, the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, and many other institutions, exhibition openings, and guild meetings.

For more information or to book a presentation, contact Robert Shaw

The Art Quilt
A History of the Art Quilt

This presentation traces the development of the art quilt, exploring its roots in traditional quiltmaking and other textile and visual arts and then looking at the beginnings of the modern "art quilt movement" in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. It includes ground-breaking work by such pioneers as Jean Ray Laury, Charles Counts, Radka Donnell, and Molly Upton, as well as a variety of work by contemporary masters from Michael James, Nancy Crow, Joan Lintault, and Terrie Mangat to Susan Shie, Pauline Burbidge, and Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade.
March Study by Nancy Crow, Colleciton of the artist NEO-Buddha by Susan Shie. Collection of John M. Walsh III

American Quilts: The Democratic Art by Robert Shaw

American Quilts: The Democratic Art

Quilts are the quintessential American folk art, known and loved throughout the world. Based on my acclaimed book, American Quilts: The Democratic Art, this history of quilt traditions examines the bed quilt's origins in Europe, its development in nineteenth century America, and its deep social, ethnic, and gender meanings. The comprehensive presentation includes outstanding examples by Amish, African-American, Native American, and Hawaiian quiltmakers as well as a variety of contemporary artists.

Blatimore album quilt Three Sixes by Rosie Lee Tomplins. Collection of Eli Leon.

New Mexico britches quilt

Thinking Different: Improvisational Quilts

Throughout the twentieth century, a wide range of Anglo-American, Hispanic, Native American, and African-American quilters worked in improvisational styles that often resulted in strikingly modern visual effects. These quirky, scrappy pieces, created "under the radar" of mainstream quiltmakers and still little known and poorly understood, form a parallel universe of American quilts.

This presentation offers a broad overview of rarely seen work that is marked by fearless color combinations, asymmetrical compositions, and daring juxtapositions of uneven shapes.

African-American housetop quilt Seminole strip pieced quilt

Hawaiian Quilt Masterpieces by Robert Shaw

Hawaiian Quilts: The Spirit of the Islands

Bringing elements of their Polynesian heritage to the American quilt, nineteenth-century Hawaiians created a distinctive and beautiful craft that is still actively practiced throughout the islands. From the early influences of missionaries and traders, to annexation by the United States and subsequent statehood, to the current concerns of today’s quiltmakers, this presentation offers some of the finest examples of the islands’ fabric art and shows how the designs of these extraordinary Hawaiian creations are grounded in spirituality, the indigenous flora, and the visual expression of history.

Hawaiian flag quilt Hwaiian quilt

Amish barn raising

Amish Abstractions: Quilts from a Plain People

In his 1999 book American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America,the noted art critic Robert Hughes boldly asserted that the the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, "created America’s first major abstract art.”

Women in Midwestern Amish communities from Ohio to Nebraska were no less inventive, creating distinctive variations of patterns they borrowed from their "English" neighbors as well as strikingly original designs all their own. How could people who determinedly lived apart from the modern world have created works of such expressive power and artistic vision? The answers lie in the world of the Amish, whose culture and quilts are explored in this enlightening presentation.

Lancaster Amish Cenrer Diamond Amish Stairway to Heaven

For more information or to book a presentation, contact Robert Shaw


A one-day meeting of the quilt minds!

A full day up close and personal with three of America's leading quilt authors, curators, and experts.

Man-Made Quilts by Joe CunninghamJoe Cunningham American Quilts: The Democratic Art by Robert ShawRobert Shaw Hears and Hands by Julie SilberJulie Silber

Joe Cunningham, Julie Silber, and Bob Shaw

Interactive guided tours, illustrated presentations, show-and-tells, and more.

"The Julie, Bob, & Joe Show is too hilarious (and educational!) for words."
—Roderick Kiracofe, author of The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort 1750-1950

"If you want a GREAT program as well as lots of laughs, bring Julie, Joe, and Bob to your area!!
Then go out to dinner with them. You will glow for a week with good vibes!"
—Karen Biedler Alexander , quilt historian and former curator of The Quilters Hall of Fame

For information about hosting a Quilt Adventure, contact Robert Shaw.

Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

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Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

Bottom left and right: Toward Barred Island (detail) by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade