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Tarble Arts Center Folk Arts Collection


The Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University reopens its newly renovated galleries on July 6, 2002 with an exhibition of Illinois folk arts.  The exhibition will be on view through August 18, 2002. (left: papier maché man and woman by Martha Heyden, Greenup)

The exhibition of folk arts is drawn from the Tarble's collection of works from east-central and southeastern Illinois artists.  A special feature of the exhibition are memorial tributes for two artists who passed away over the last year, Cora Meek of Mattoon and Martha Hayden of Greenup.

Meek passed away on July 1st, 2001, at the age of 111.  She is best known for her embroidered denim quilts, but she also made hooked rugs, and many curtains and coverlets by piecing satin funeral ribbons. Meek's work has been recognized throughout the region and beyond.  In addition to exhibits at the Tarble in 1995 Meek had a solo exhibition at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago and was featured in the Chicago Tribune Magazine.  The following year a Meek quilt was acquired by the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution and she was represented in the exhibition The Intuitive Edge:  Midwest Folk and Outsider Art at the South Bend Regional Museum of Art.  And Meek received an Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship Award at the age of 101.

Martha Hayden was known throughout the area for her imaginative papier maché sculpture.   A self-taught artist, most of her papier maché figures were as she remembered people from her childhood and before. She also created figures of birds and animals.  Hayden began creating her art in mid-1960s.  Her work has been exhibited throughout central Illinois, including in Town and Country art shows.  A Town and Country judge described Hayden's work  as a "good representation of a simple subject."  Hayden helped organize art and craft exhibitions in her hometown of Greenup.  Martha Hayden passed away in December of 2001 at the age of 96.

Also included in the exhibition are other quilts and textiles, paintings, scale models including a doll house, a number of objects by members of the Amish community in Arthur, and the photo-documentary exhibit The Amish of Illinois.   Some of the other artists represented in the exhibition include Jennie Cell (Charleston), Elvia Baker Tarble (Martinsville), Lodge Grant (McLeansboro), James B. Tucker (Bridgeport), Alta McLain (Gallatin County), Dave Hart (Charleston), Virginia Buckner (Decatur), and Emma Metten (Teutopolis). (left: detail of an early embroidered quilt by Cora Meek)

The media represented in the Folk Arts Collection include paintings, baskets, quilts, wovens, thread and needlework, carvings, blacksmithing, and a number of mixed media works such as dolls, scaled replicas of buildings, and dioramas.  The Tarble's folk arts collection totals approximately 500 pieces, with most works dating between 1950 and 1990.

The plans and drawings for a new addition to the Tarble will also be on public view.  Designed by E. Verner Johnson and Associates, Museum Architects, of Boston, the addition is made possible by gifts from Mrs. Newton Tarble and her daughter, Jan Tarble.


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