I don't remember not knowing about story quilts. Maybe I just dreamed the idea. Or I assumed that applique and quilting would tell many stories together. Other cultures tell stories through textiles. But if you search on "story quilts," the first name that comes up is Harriet Powers. One of my girls and I stumbled upon her biography, Stitching Stars by Mary E. Lyons, in the library.
Born into slavery in Georgia in 1837 (d. 1910), she created two masterworks destined to survive. Both tell stories from the Bible. She reluctantly sold the first for five dollars, saying (as recorded by the new owner) "Owin to de hardness of de times, my ole man lows I'd better tech hit."
It lives in the Smithsonian in D.C. Her second Bible quilt, commissioned by fans of the first, now resides at the MFA in Boston:
Why am I thinking about Harriet Powers and her Bible quilts? In Three Rivers Rising/Revising, the character Maura creates a quilt with her family tree. One block for her childhood, one for her husband's, one in the middle for their wedding...etc. Winter evenings are long in the mountains, and especially damp in the valley, so she waits for her husband by the fire, warming herself with the quilt as she works on it. My (wonderful) editor thought the images would be abstract and you'd have to know the language of quilts (when triangles are geese, etc.). I needed to clarify what I was picturing as closer to realism.
No, Maura is not a freed slave in 1889, but I don't have any trouble imagining that other story quilts have popped up over the course of history. And that they went unrecorded. And were eventually lost...to use, to fires, and even to floods.
A Series of Fortunate Events. - My daughter graduated from high school last Wednesday. Loaded statement, that. How, in a word, would I describe how I felt as the winding rivulets of Col...
1 day ago