Behind the Scenes at the DAM

Stories and Secrets in Cover Story

I will be the first to admit that I am not the best at “careful looking.” I can miss entire herds of deer on the side of the road or a lone pothole smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk. On a recent visit to the new textile art galleries with curator Alice Zrebiec, I benefitted from her incredible attention to detail. Cover Story, the inaugural exhibition in the new galleries, holds treasures from the museum’s collection and offers fun facts about how the world uses textiles. Here are a few tiny details you won’t want to miss.

1. The stunning Amish quilt in the first part of the gallery is called Sunshine and Shadows. Alice pointed out the date, 1926, embroidered on the middle of the outside right edge. The thread color perfectly matches the green fabric. Note that the image is turned 90 degrees to the right, so you will have to turn your head and look closely to find this detail in the gallery.

 

2. You may have spotted the Victorian era tea cozy. Beautiful and decorated on the outside, Alice told me the lining is hot pink!

3. A Japanese wrapping cloth, called a furoskiki, is used to wrap and carry hundreds of different items. I didn’t believe Alice at first. This is a seemingly simple cloth. Very beautiful, but very simple. However, after a round of Googling, I found directions on how to wrap four bottles, presents, hangers, and even chopsticks with this cloth, to name a few. This website gives step-by-step instructions for how to tie your furoskiski a million different ways.

4. In the window- and wall-coverings section, there is a wall panel titled Court Festivities, made in the 1700s. The entire panel tells a story of a party from beginning to end during the era of kings, queens, and nobles. My favorite plot line is in the third section down from the top. Here a court cook is handling an original barbeque system, roasting food on an open fire. Waiting eagerly by his side is a black and white spotted dog. You might miss the spotted pup if you don’t look closely at the incredible details and story illustrated on this embroidered piece.

5. In the section of the exhibition titled Prestige, there is a stunning women’s coat from central Europe. The decorative jacket was most likely worn for a wedding ceremony. Look closely at the front of the jacket, just below the fur trim. The names of the couple and their wedding date are embroidered in the heart-like shapes on the front.

Ashley Pritchard is communications and media relations manager at the Denver Art Museum. Ashley has been at the DAM since 2008 and her favorite exhibition that has been on view here is Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective. She gets to peruse the galleries some mornings around 4 am for TV segments and loves having a little quiet time with the art.