Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Let us on your imaginary forces work. Quilts are Primary Sources too!

Posted on: May 6, 2014

carried_away

Get Carried Away, GRSF 2014. Painting based on an original painting by Julia Crozier

Let us, ciphers to this great account, on your imaginary forces work.
Chorus, King Henry V, Act I Prologue, William Shakespeare

 

Each year a group of quilters create a raffle quilt highlighting  Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) costume shop fabrics. The inspiration for this year’s “Will Quilt” group was the Festival’s Get Carried Away tagline and the season poster of birds flying.

Our own imaginary forces guided us to select fabrics in the poster’s color palette and design a quilt reflecting the poster’s theme. Fabrics used in costumes for King Lear, Cordelia, Olivia, King Henry, Desdemona and a host of other Shakespearean characters are combined with quilt cottons in a traditional “Birds in the Air” design.

Our quilt tells a story about GRSF.  It also depicts a historical story connected to freedom and possibly the Underground Railroad. The connection between  the “Birds in the Air” design origin and the Underground Railroad is uncertain, but the design is an inspiration for many variations and fictional books. A few suggested links for learning more are below.

Creating a GRSF quilt is an annual project. Ten unique blocks representing ten plays recalled a decade of plays in our 2013 quilt. Our 2012 art quilt wall hanging included nine  panels of “wavy” fabric representing nine Festival seasons and the Mississippi River.

The Library of Congress acknowledges the stories in quilts tell and includes quilts in digital collections of primary sources. Collections include oral interviews with quilters and photos of quilt including some made by students. Historic photos show us quilting bees; historic sheet music celebrates the art of quilting. Letters tell stories.

Quilts and Quiltmaking in America 1978-1996 from the Library’s American Folklife Center is a digital collection that has recorded interviews with quiltmakers and graphic images from two collections in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress: the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection and the Lands’ End All-American Quilt Contest Collection (Text abbreviated text from the collection overview)

Searchers can also go to www.loc.gov and simply search for quilts. Select the gallery view for a quick overview.

Let your imaginary forces work to imagine the stories these quilts tell.  Come back later to see the GRSF Birds in the Air Quilt!

Using primary sources in your classroom; Online course for educators

Resources
Library of Congress Digital Collection: Quilt Making in America, 1978-1996
Civil War Quilts Reproduction Quilts and Fabric
Jennifer Chiaverini, the Runaway Quilt
Underground Railroad Quilts & Abolitionist Fairs

 

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3 Responses to "Let us on your imaginary forces work. Quilts are Primary Sources too!"

[…] Let us on your imaginary forces work. Quilts are Primary Sources too! […]

Interesting post. I see your current post, too, with the beautiful birds in the air quilt inspired by the festival poster. I wish you much success with the raffle.

I can’t tell from your wording about the Underground Railroad and any quilt connections, what your understanding is of that. As shown in your source on abolitionist fairs, there is no evidence of any connection. If you’d like more detail, you can find it here
http://catbirdquilts.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/underground-railroad-quilt-code/

Thanks for sharing the additional link! MAA

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