Pattern and Paradox publication cover

Pattern and Paradox: The Quilts of Amish Women

Janneken Smucker, with an introduction by Leslie Umberger, collectors' note by Faith and Stephen Brown, and foreword by Stephanie Stebich

Pattern and Paradox: The Quilts of Amish Women explores the design innovation and quiltmaking skills of Amish women from communities across the United States. The catalogue celebrates the Faith and Stephen Brown collection of Amish quilts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Assembled over the span of five decades, these fifty extraordinary quilts expand our understanding of the distinctive aesthetics that Amish women shaped within and for their communities.

Co-curator Leslie Umberger’s introduction situates Amish quilts within the context of quiltmaking in America as well as within the American art story. In the catalogue’s main essay, historian Janneken Smucker explains what unites and distinguishes the Amish and their arts and describes the sometimes-fine line between personal artistry and communal practice. Her insightful text illuminates the ways in which Amish quilt patterns overlap and diverge from community to community, at times adhering to strict values of modesty and conformity, and at others testing boundaries with innovative design. Through a series of entries on individual quilts, Smucker considers “visual clues” for reading and interpreting Amish quilts, which are often more complex and curious than they might first appear.

This lavishly illustrated book will appeal to quilt enthusiasts, quilters and crafters, scholars, and art lovers alike, with vivid photography of each quilt, including select back-sides and details revealing the careful delicacy of every stitch. This catalogue accompanies the Smithsonian American Art Museum's exhibition Pattern and Paradox: The Quits of Amish Women.

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Product Details

Smithsonian American Art Museum, in association with D Giles Limited
Year Published
  • Softcover: 9781913875572
1012″ portrait

Product Photos


Quilt with a colorful, abstract pattern. At the center is a dark blue square with a black star as its border.
Pattern and Paradox: The Quilts of Amish Women
March 28, 2024August 26, 2024
Explore the creative practice of Amish quilters in the United States.