Sunday, July 7, 2013

Patty Yoder at the Shelburne Museum

Patty Yoder with Sheep
The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne VT is one of my favourite places. The sprawling 45 acres of green parkland is punctuated by 39 exhibition buildings, formal gardens, a carousel and a steamship. Most of the buildings are historic, and were relocated to their current site brick by brick. Over 150,000 items form the permanent collection, much of it showcased in carefully curated exhibitions: quilts, hats, toys, Impressionist paintings and American folk art. Monitors give demonstrations of typesetting and flatbed printing presses, a blacksmith's workshop, and antique looms. A complete general store, apothecary, dentist's and doctor's office are recreated, faithful to a reality c. 1900.

A is for Anthony,
as in Susan B., 

Patty Yoder, 1998

Every summer, special exhibits of fine art and decorative art are staged. One of the best this year is "The Alphabet of Sheep", the hooked rugs of Patty Yoder (1943 - 2005). Born in Nebraska and raised in Ohio, Patty moved to Vermont when she retired. She began rug hooking in 1992, and she had produced 44 beautiful works before her death thirteen years later.
E is for Ernie, a Patriotic Young Ram
who Only has Eyes for Bonnie,
Patty Yoder, 1998

Patty brought her contemporary sensibility to the tradition of American rug hooking.

Remarkably, she had no formal art training, yet her sense of colour and composition and her use of pattern are exceptional. Patty raised sheep on her small Vermont farm, and they became the stars of her imagery.

S is for Sandy, Santa's Favorite,
Patty Yoder, 1993

The sheep also supplied the wool used to make the rugs, wool that Patty dyed in rich and vibrant colours.

Her alphabet series of sheep was donated to the Shelburne Museum, and many of them are on display until October 31 in the Hat and Fragrance Textile Gallery.

U is for Ursula, Always the Underdog, Patty Yoder, 2000