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Special Exhibits

for Rug Hooking Week 2023

Special Exhibits are collections of innovative and original works done by an individual or group of artists which represent contemporary or historic themes, concepts, ideas, techniques, educational, and regional projects.

Rug Hooking Week offers classes relevant to these exhibits so that you may gain insight and learn techniques directly from the artist, authority or curator. You will find more information on the classes listed with each exhibit and on the Retreat and Workshop pages.

History of Amish Rug Hooking


Lancaster County, Pennsylvania has long been known as the home for Amish and Mennonite people. Their culture has a rich and beautiful heritage through religion, community spirit, food, art, and so much more. Fiber art, especially quilting and rug hooking stands out as a great example of this heritage.

This hooked rug collection represents a number of Amish and Mennonite artists from Lancaster County, it is unique to its region, people, influences, surroundings, and everyday life. The joyous spirit of these women artist, whether it be applied to design, color planning or hooking, can be felt in each piece. Some of the Amish and Mennonite artists include: Fannie Stoltzfus, and others, as well as rug collector Penny Young. The time frame covers approximately 1930's – 1970's.

Home-sweet-Home-hooked-rugCurator: Cindy Irwin

Cindy Irwin is an authority on Amish and Mennonite hooked rugs, as well as numerous other styles and types of rug hooking. She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


Classes:  To accompany this Special Exhibit, we are offering a Retreat and Gallery Talk, for more information see our Retreat and  Workshop page.


Inspired Vessels 

This Special Exhibit focuses on a collection of 3-dimensional Vessels created by fiber artist Ali Strebel of Tipp City, Ohio. Ali is known for her artistic talents combining a multitude of fiber art techniques with a plethora of fiber materials into a single project—the result is always unique and creative!

Ali has been teaching fiber art nationally and internationally for almost 40 years, along with her line of books, patterns and other fiber art supplies and jewelry.

Curator: Ali Strebel 


Classes: To accompany this Special Exhibit, we are offering a Workshop, for more information see our Workshop page.



Lift Every Voice – Elizabeth Catlett

Fourteen American and Canadian women, spanning the continent from Nova Scotia to Seattle and Vancouver collaborated on hooking the series of fifteen block prints that artist Elizabeth Catlett first produced in Mexico City in 1947. During the pandemic in 2021 and 2022, of the 14 artists, 6 of us are black, 2 of us are Canadian, and the remaining 8 are white and from the U.S. We found common bonds of purpose and passion during the period of time that we worked to complete our rugs

We met on zoom, chose the prints through lottery, discussed the artist, and reflected on how we might approach our hooked pieces so that they accurately reflected on what Ms. Catlett had conveyed over 70 years ago when she first produced this collection of social justice block prints.  We recognized that Ms. Catlett’s’ images and message resonate as much now as they did then.

school-hooked-rug-spDIn this celebration of the work of “one of our own”, we hope as she wished, that our collected work “be of service” and “work to the end that love, peace, justice and equal opportunity prevail all over the world.” The title of the prints are written in a narrative, and are meant to be read aloud, as they are arranged in order for that purpose.

Each of the rugs are accompanied by the artist statement and a copy of Ms. Catlett’s original print.

Special thanks to the Smithsonian and Memphis Brooks Museums for allowing, with permission the copying of the prints, and to the Northern McGown Teachers Workshop and Melissa Pattacini of Honey Bee Hive Rug patterns for the generous contribution to mount and frame this exhibit.

A full article on this project is in the Jan/Feb issues of Rug Hooking magazine.

“I am the black woman. I have always worked hard in America, in the fields, in other folks’ homes. I have given the world my songs. In Sojourner Truth I fought for the rights of women as well as Blacks. In Harriet Tubman I helped hundreds to freedom. In Phyliss Wheatley I proved intellectual equality in the midst of slavery. I have studied with ever increasing numbers. My role has been important in the struggle to organize the unorganized. My reward has been bars between me and the rest of the land. I have special reservations, and a special fear for my loved ones. My right is a future of equality with other Americans.” Elizabeth Catlett

Curator:  Maddy Fraioli

Maddy is the coordinator for the Lift Every Voice project. She is also a talented fiber artist and teacher, as well as a master potter and tile maker, weaver, and block-printer.


Classes:  To accompany this Special Exhibit, we are offering a Retreat and Gallery Talk, for more information see our Retreat and  Workshop page.


Theodore Sizer – Design & Symbolism

Theodore-Sizer-Hooked-Rug-Catalogue-coverDuring the last 18 years of his life, Theodore Sizer (1892-1967), of Bethany, Connecticut, designed and hooked 130 unique rugs. As an artist and art historian at Yale University, he created imaginative, energetic, and personalized hooked rugs – which were gifts for his friends and relatives.

After his death in 1967, his wife and daughter, working from a list he had kept, collaborated to document his entire hooked rug collection. They contacted the rug recipients, requesting photos of the rugs and letters explaining the symbols used in the rug, and the occasion for the gift. The collected information resided in a loose-leaf notebook for more than three decades. In 2008, Theodore’s granddaughter, Molly Warner digitized the photos and information, and wrote a book: The Hooked Rugs of Theodore Sizer, published in 2009.

Over the years, Molly has stayed in touch with relatives who are owners of many of these rugs, and she has also repaired some of the rugs. For this exhibit, she has gathered a wonderful collection representing Theodore Sizer’s unique talent and creativity.

Molly-Warner-hooked-rugsCurator: Molly Warner

Molly is the granddaughter of Theodore Sizer. She collaborated with her mother and grandmother in order to meticulously document Theodore’s hooked rugs and recorded his fiber art story in the book titled:  The Hooked Rugs of Theodore Sizer. Her role in this three-generation hooked rug project has been documentation, but also hooked rug preservation, and story-telling.


Classes:  To accompany this Special Exhibit, we are offering a Retreat and Gallery Talk, for more information see our Retreat and  Workshop page.



USA50 Hooked Cushions

Hooked-rug-cushionsThis Project was born from a photograph, became an idea, the idea a dream, and the dream an exciting creative worldwide adventure, thanks to the generosity and spirit of mutual aid from the world rug hooking community.

A Special Exhibit showcasing the USA50 Cushion Project, the second phase of the more than 300 Hooked & Punched Cushion Project of the Barachois International Collection of Hooked Cushions at the Historic Church of Barachois in Grand-Barachois, New Brunswick, Canada. The oldest wooden church in Acadia (1826) which is now a museum, an art gallery and an auditorium.

Wisconsin-cushion-hookedIn the fall of 2019, a visit to the Barachois Cushion display by a group of Americans, sparked the idea of having all the American states represented in the collection - and the USA50 Project was launched. 

Talented and creative artists from across the United States designed and hooked or punched each of the states along with Washington DC. Some of the cushions are a collaboration of multiple fiber artists. Each of the 50+ cushions represent the fiber artist’s state as well as their individual styles, imagery, stories and memories.

Curator: Rémi Lévesque

Rémi is an active volunteer at the Barachois Museum and Art Gallery. He is the inspiration, founder, and the facilitator behind the creation of the Barachois International Collection of Hooked Cushions Project, a permanent exhibit of over 300 hooked cushions from all around the world. 

Website: &

Classes:  To accompany this Special Exhibit, we are offering a Retreat and Gallery Talk, for more information see our Retreat and  Workshop page.