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New exhibit celebrates 100 years of the National Park Service


The U.S. National Park Service—which oversees all U.S. national parks, many national monuments, and conservation and historical sites—was first established on August 25, 1916.

Next year, the popular agency turns 100! And it’s commemorating its centennial by launching its Find Your Park campaign, an effort designed to encourage people of all generations to connect (or reconnect) with and celebrate national parks and public lands. And that’s precisely what the organizer of a special exhibit debuting at International Quilt Festival in Houston hopes to do as well.

“National Parks: Celebrating 100 years” will feature a selection of works from over 80 artists who created quilts to honor the agency’s landmark year. Included are landscapes, flora, and fauna to represent each of the U.S. National Parks.

After organizing the very successful “Inspired by the Beatles” art quilt challenge and exhibit last year, quilter Donna DeSoto began thinking about what subject should inspire her next exhibit.

“I began hearing about the upcoming centennial anniversary of the National Park Service,” she says. “What if, I wondered, I issued a challenge to choose a park, and depict an aspect of that park as an art quilt? I mentioned the idea to a few friends, and their eager reaction nudged me forward!”

DeSoto established some parameters for the challenge—size, parks to be included, no use of photo transfer or copyrighted images—and began promoting it to participants of her previous Beatles exhibit and artists she met at last year’s Houston show.

“Word of mouth just spread,” she explains. “As it turned out, 148 artists made 177 quilts. The artists are located from Canada to Texas to Germany. Many come from the mid-Atlantic area where I live.”

DeSoto attributes the success of the challenge to the its inspiring subject matter.

“National parks are our country’s treasures. Most of us have visited national parks, and we understand that these are special lands we must continue to conserve and protect,” she adds.

The project will be featured in a book to be released by Schiffer Publishing in the spring of 2016, and visitors to Quilt Festival in Houston this fall can see the exhibit on display. But in the meantime, we’re featuring a selection of the quilts here, along with images of the gorgeous parks that inspired their creation.


© 2015. A publication of Quintessential Quilt Media. No portion may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Quilts, Inc.