ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Take a deep dive into the surprising back story of everyday objects in two exhibits at the Allentown Art Museum.
Sleep Tight features bedcovers and hangings from around the world, things like an Aegean Islands bed tent.
"The maker actually counted the threads in the linen as kind of a grid to guide the stitches and create these really precise geometric motifs," said Associate Curator Claire McRee.
McRee says those motifs can often tell you where a piece was made. But what it's made from can give you insight about the political implications of the time.
"This is a textile where the fibers were most likely grown by enslaved people," McRee said as she showed 69 News one of the exhibit's pieces.
The exhibit explores the unexpected roles some people played in Pennsylvania's history, like Hmong women displaced by the Vietnam War.
The second exhibit, Roots, takes on the notion of what is art, with pieces from several different cultures, including abstract quilts and textiles from Alabama.
"Gee's Bend is a small African-American community that's known for this quilting tradition that emphasizes improvisation and personal interpretation over following a set pattern," McRee said.
The clean and simple lines of Shaker furniture often found in museums is now set alongside art it has inspired.
Works inspired by Native American culture examine the complicated line between inspiration and appropriation.
Roots and Sleep Tight are on view Fridays through Sundays until September 12.