Quilts: links to art and family

You can see the shapes of Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian and the colors of Franz Marc in the Bellevue Arts Museum’s African American Quilt Show, “Bold Expressions.” The quilts on the museum walls are predominately from the American South and many are from the 1940’s, though there is at least one example created between 1910 and 1920 and one completed in the seventies. “I can see strips of polyester leisure suits in that one,” said the docent, referring to the youngest quilt, which immediately brought back memories of John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.”

The quilters employed traditional patterns, such as, the log cabin, house top, flying geese and egg timer, but not necessarily in conventional ways.

The collector of these works of art, Corinne Riley, said,  “In the past, these quilts were usually disregarded because of their unconventional construction. But I believe that the decisions that were made in piecing these were intentional, not accidental, as with any art form.”

For many of us, the show connects us to more than late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century art, because quilts make a link to our family history.  I have three my grandmother made, including one that’s unfinished.  A friend told me she had inherited twelve.  When you look at swatches of fabric within a quilt, you can imagine the dresses, shirts and aprons that these were once a part of, salvaged because nothing went to waste during and after World Wars I and II and the Great Depression.

Quilting did not die out with my grandmother’s generation, and the quilting bees of colonial and pioneer America, where groups of women sewed and conversed, are enjoying a resurgence.  My friend with twelve quilts tells me that the most significant change over the years is that sipping wine now accompanies stitching and talking at many quilting bees.  What would our grandmothers think?

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
This entry was posted in arts and crafts, friends and family, memories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Quilts: links to art and family

  1. I am reading “Stormy, Misty’s Foal” with one of my reading students this summer. Of great mystery: the “fabric scraps” one of the Chincoteague Islanders uses to make flags. It was fun sharing the source and uses of the “fabric scrap” with a child whose mother doesn’t sew.

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