Fabric art exhibit opens Jan. 29 at National WWI Museum

WWI Museum

Imperial German silk-screened fabric table cover showing many of the German military leaders in 1914. Such covers were often used on small tables at the entry of a home to show patriotic fervor. Image courtesy of the National WWI Museum and Memorial

KANSAS CITY, MO. – “Remember Me.” “Souvenir de France.” “Mother Dear.” “Merci!” These and countless other sentiments are expressed in the fabric art that came from World War I. A special exhibition on fabric art during the Great War will debut Jan. 29 at the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Romantic and patriotic scenes were created on silk and cotton and wool felt. Many of the objects were made in direct response to those loved ones going to war from every country. Others were made for commercial purposes to serve the clamor for souvenirs. “Color of Memory: Fabric Art in WWI” explores expressions of remembrance through incredible objects from Australia, Belgium, France, Germany the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States, including decorative pillow cases, flags, tapestries, banners, maps and much more.

Regardless of initial purpose, the fabric art became a colorful reminder of how deeply the war affected those at home and away. Among others, needlepoint, silkscreen, embroidery, quilting, painting and cross-stitch all served an outlet to artistically express love, fear, loss and memory.

Cpl. Walter Bullard, Co. F., 603rd Engineers wrote home: “I am enclosing a handkerchief that I bought for you. It is rather pretty with the French flag and Stars and Stripes together. They sell quite a bunch of them to the boys to send home and there is hardly a town that I have been in that you can’t find hundreds in stores. They have all colors and with different words and such. Some have all the Allied flags worked in the corner.”

One particularly fascinating object is a quilt featuring 89 autographs from noteworthy figures from across the world at the time of the World War I armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. Among the signatories: President Woodrow Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson, Queen Alexandra of Denmark, Helen Keller, Charlie Chaplin, Orville Wright and 41 state governors.

Tickets start at $10 and are only $3 when combined with general admission to the Museum and Memorial.

The National WWI Museum and Memorial holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and personal experiences of the war.