Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Quilts

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Get Carried Away ~ 2014 Great River Shakespeare Festival ~ Photo by Sydney Swanson

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

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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