Quilts are Primary Sources too! Part II
Posted June 25, 2014on:
A Stitch in Time Turns a Dime. Our quilt made the Front Page, Winona Daily News July 24, 2014.
In May I described the inspiration for the design of this year’s Great River Shakespeare raffle quilt. The post also has links to primary sources about quilts. Our 2014 GRSF “Get Carried Away, Birds in the Air” themed quilt is complete and hanging in the Festival’s performance lobby. The original painting that inspired the quilt design is nearby. It is incredibly beautiful and a true collaborative project. We are thrilled and excited.
Quilts have a major role in Sue Monk Kidd’s newest novel, The Invention of Wings (Penguin, 2014). The historical fiction novel expands on (and heavily imagines) an actual relationship between abolitionist Sarah Grimke and her house slave, Handful. Charlotte, Handful’s mother, the Grimke household seamstress, creates story quilts telling stories of life in Africa and America. She wouldn’t say what happened to her with words. She would tell it in the cloth
Red and Black triangular quilt blocks also are described in Monk’s book. In Africa, her mauma was quilter, best there is. They was Fon people and sewed applique, same like I do. They cut out fishes, birds, lions, elephants, every beat they had, and sewed em on, but the quilt your granny-mauma brought with her didn’t have no animals on it, just little three-side shapes, what you call a triangle. Same like I put on my quilts. My mauma say they was blackbird wings.
Kidd used many primary sources and visited historic sites as she prepared to write the novel. The quilts that inspired Kidd as she researched background information for the novel were created by Harriet Powers, a slave. Powers’ quilts are archived at the Smithsonian Museum of American History and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Powers is highlighted in Americas Library, a Library of Congress selection of primary sources young learners. Powers is also featured in Seven Southern Quilters from the University of Virginia. Stitching Stars: The Story Quilts of Harriet Powers (Mary Lyons) is an ALA notable book for children.
Have you seen quilts that tell a story? What stories do your quilts tell? Quilts are primary sources too!
May 6 post: Quilts are Primary Sources too! Includes links to primary sources about quilts and a photo of the original painting.
Season 10 Great River Shakespeare Festival Quilt ( Mary Lee Eischen, Breeze on My Skin, June 8, 2013)
Great River Shakespeare Festival