Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

As much as I love hearing the quilt stories that are told during Q.S.O.S. interviews, sometimes my favorite part is the answer to the very first question, which is often a variation on “tell me about the quilt you brought today and why you chose it”. Choosing among quilts you’ve made can be like choosing among your children (well, maybe not quite that difficult) and it’s often fascinating to hear how a quiltmaker selected the touchstone quilt for their interview.

This week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features Katharine Brainard, who’s made many deeply personal, cathartic and emotional quilts, such as her ‘Divorce Quilt’. Katharine brought another personal quilt–made with memories of traveling to New York with her sister–to her Q.S.O.S. interview. Read more about that quilt and why she selected it below:

“This is called “New York Quilt.” My sister lives in Maine and I live in Maryland near Washington, D.C. Every year we meet halfway in the middle, in New York, leaving husbands and children and whatevers at home, just the two of us sisters, for a sisters’ weekend. We’ve been doing that for many years. We meet in New York for a long weekend, and spend the time together exploring. We often go through little flea markets and through the garment district. One year I came back home afterwards and made this quilt, reflecting our sisters’ weekend together in New York that year. It’s got a black velvet background, sort of soft and night time, but it’s also got sort of frenetic energy. They say New York never sleeps, it just keeps on going. That year I bought these buttons from street vendors. I also bought these really ugly white plaster mermaids off a table at a flea market. I brought them home and painted them and put all kinds of buttons and beads and strings and ribbons in heir hair. And I bought the moon and star buttons in the garment district. These little people that are hanging here. [Katharine points to them on her quilt.] I also found those in New York, in a bead shop. Every year we go and have our palms read and fortunes told. Quite often the palm readers have beaded curtains that you go through and the beads swish to the side. That’s why I have all these little things hanging off the bottom of the quilt like a little beaded curtain. When you move the quilt, they make a swishing bead sound. And these little flowery beaded things were from Japan, bought those in the garment district, too. I just wanted to show the wonderful energy of New York City. The mermaids might look scary but they’re not gruesome, they’re just sort of energy. The whole quilt is supposed to represent energy. And this wave along the bottom is like an energy wave, almost like how the whole ocean is constantly moving and changing. There are lots of embroidery quilting stitches all the way across the quilt, changing from lights to darks. Sometimes I look at this quilt and it changes when I look at it at different times. That’s what I like about it. It’s never the same, it’s always changing. 

LR: And you chose this particular one why?

KB: Well, my daughter and I laid out a lot of quilts this morning and we chose this one because we like it. A lot of the quilts I’ve been known for are more emotional quilts. For example, I associate my “Divorce Quilt” with a part of my life that was a little painful but necessary. Many of the quilts came at the time of the “Divorce Quilt” and afterwards, people talk to me about them and ask wasn’t it a cathartic release, and some people were offended by some of them. Also, I did a “Suicide Quilt.” But I really don’t care to talk about those quilts that much because some people put negative judgments on things, because emotions can scare people. So that’s why I pulled out a non-emotional quilt today. I stopped making the emotional quilts because I couldn’t live with them on the walls of my home.

LR: The emotional reason–

KB: The emotional quilts were probably cathartic when I made them. I was taking the emotions out of me and putting them into the quilts. But then I really couldn’t live with them around me on the walls. It was too much. I was raising three small children, and I wanted to provide a calm, happy home for them. The quilts could go in a gallery, or in a museum, but living with them day-to-day was difficult. The New York Quilt I can live with day-to-day. It makes me happy to look at it. It’s very positive. It hung in our front hall for the past year. So that’s why I chose this quilt, plus I love the colors, blues and greens. Green has to do with growth. Blue with depth, the sky, the ocean, eternity. I’ve always loved the ocean. I grew up near the water. I have a special thing for mermaids and sea creatures, partly because they are mysterious and sort of hidden in the depths of the ocean, you can’t see what’s down there, but it’s swirling with life and energy. The ocean itself is alive. There’s a lot of life and things you don’t know about down there, and it’s constantly changing and moving, and I just, I like that. I picked this quilt because it’s easy to talk about and I love the colors and all the attachments. My favorite quilts have a lot of attachments, beads and buttons and embroidery threads. More doodads is better as far as I’m concerned. More is always good. I like it when more is more.”

You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.

EmmaParker

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Emma Parker

Project Manager, Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories

qsos@quiltalliance.org

 

 

Trees & Houses.

On this day in 1968, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental or financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin. Gender was added to that list of criteria in 1974 and people with disabilities in 1988.

Debra Lynn Miller machine pieced and Kris Neifield machine quilted this “Trees & Houses” quilt in 2002. The design is a reproduction of a Trees pattern from the 1930’s.  Miller created the quilt in a class taught by Beverly Dunivent in Big Bear, California, and documented it as part of the Arizona Quilt Documentation Project.

View this quilt on The Quilt Index to find out! Read more about its history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view or click the “See full record” link to see a larger image and all the data entered about that quilt.

Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1968


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Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance
amy.milne@quiltalliance.org

Get a Dog.

On this day in 1866, philanthropist and diplomat Henry Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in New York City. Bergh witnessed cruelty to work horses during his diplomatic post in Russia and was determined to get anti-cruelty laws passed back in the United States. The ASPCA was based on a similar organization in England, and it quickly became the model for more than 25 other humane organizations in the U.S. and Canada, including the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Pauline Salzman of Treasure Island, Florida, made this small wall quilt, titled “Get a Dog,” for the 2008 Quilt Alliance contest,

“My Quilts/Our History.” From Salzman’s artist’s statement: In the tradition of Harriette Powers . . . I try to do quilts that tell a story. It just can’t always be another pretty picture. I need to learn something and sometimes just have fun. I would like the viewer to see my quilts on different levels. The first being the overall view, the second the directional quilting and in this case the writing. I hope it makes you smile.”

View this quilt on The Quilt Index to find out! Read more about its history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view or click the “See full record” link to see a larger image and all the data entered about that quilt.

Source:
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/aspca-is-founded


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Amy Milne headshot

Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance
amy.milne@quiltalliance.org

Century of Progress.

On this day in 1887, African American composer, arranger and teacher Florence Beatrice Smith Price was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to a teacher/entrepreneur and a dentist. Young Florence played her first piano recital at age four, taught by her mother. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra presented Price’s Symphony in E Minor during the Chicago World’s Fair (Century of Progress Exposition) in 1933, marking the first time a symphony by a black woman had been performed by a major symphony orchestra.

Mary Gasperik made this “Star Arcturus—Century of Progress” quilt based on patterns shared in the Nancy Cabot newspaper column in 1933 that honor the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition. Susan Salser, Gasperik’s grand-daughter, began researching her grandmother’s quilts in 1991, after she and her two sisters divided up the quilts which belonged to their mother (Elsie Gasperik Krueger) who died in 1988. The Mary Gasperik Quilts consist of more than 80 full-sized quilts plus numerous miniatures and studies created in Chicago between 1933 and 1967 by Hungarian immigrant and award winning quiltmaker Mary Gasperik.

View this quilt on The Quilt Index to find out! Read more about its history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view or click the “See full record” link to see a larger image and all the data entered about that quilt.

Source:
http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/Price.html#14


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Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance
amy.milne@quiltalliance.org

We are One.

On this day in 563 B.C., Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born as Prince Siddhartha in the kingdom of Sakyas, situated on the borders of present-day Nepal and India. Buddha left a life of great luxury to travel the world and seek inspiration and understanding. He became a Buddha, or supremely enlightened teacher, at age 35 and died at age 80, leaving a community of monks to carry on his work. Today there are an estimated 350 million Buddhists in the world.

Patricia Healey of Poughkeepsie, New York made this 16” x 16” quilt, titled “We Are One” in 2011 for the Quilt Alliance annual contest. Healey wrote this in her artist’s statement: “The traditional Dresden Plate pattern forms a healing mandala. The background fabric reminds me of a Hindu woman’s sari and the gold of Buddhist temples. Gold sparkles throughout the quilt as a reminder of divinity in all its forms. The top border is embellished with charms, amulets and symbols of diverse religious philosophies. When not quilting, I teach Major World Religions at Dutchess Community College.”

View this quilt on The Quilt Index to find out! Read more about its history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view or click the “See full record” link to see a larger image and all the data entered about that quilt.

Source:
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/buddhists-celebrate-birth-of-gautama-buddha


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Amy Milne headshot

Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance
amy.milne@quiltalliance.org

Strange Fruit.

On this day in 1915, American jazz icon Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Holiday “apprenticed” with Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong by singing along to their records in after-hours jazz clubs in Baltimore, and by the age of 15, she had moved to New York City with her mother and was singing in Harlem nightclubs for tips. At age 18, she made her first recording as part of a studio group led by Benny Goodman. In the 1930s, Holiday was first introduced to the poem “Strange Fruit,” an emotional piece about the lynching of a black man. Though Columbia would not allow her to record the piece due to subject matter, Holiday went on to record the song with an alternate label, Commodore, and the song eventually became one of Holiday’s classics.

April Shipp of Auburn Hills, Michigan made this quilt titled “Strange Fruit: A Century of Lynching” in 2003.  The quilt includes the following inscription:

“Strange Fruit. A Century of Lynching and Murder 1865-1965 (in red machine embroidery) Dedicated to Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (in gold machine embroidery) 100s of names of victims of lynchings and their states (in gold machine embroidery).”

The quilt was documented in 2008 as part of the Michigan Quilt Project. Read the artist’s statement in the full Quilt Index record for this quilt here.

View this quilt on The Quilt Index to find out! Read more about its history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view or click the “See full record” link to see a larger image and all the data entered about that quilt.

Source:
http://www.billieholiday.com/


Quilt Index partners

Amy Milne headshot

Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance
amy.milne@quiltalliance.org

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

“April showers bring May flowers”, or at least that’s what they say. It’s looking a little overcast here in my my town today, so I set off in search of a rainy-day quilt to share with you for this week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight. I didn’t make it far into my search when I found this quilt, by Ellie Taesali. Even though it’s seems like a pretty sunny day in the scene the quilt depicts, I was fascinated by the story behind her quilt and how it tied into her family’s heritage:

“The quilt I made is called the “Rain Maker.” That is a mountain in Samoa where my dad was born. The quilt came to be because I joined the quilters group here in Boonville. I showed up to a class and I had never quilted before. I was asking Molly, the teacher, what I should do and she said, ‘There are no rules,’ just go and pick out the fabric, let the fabric speak to you, but the most important thing is to tell your story. So, I thought that wasn’t very much for me to go on, but I went and looked at the fabric and I saw some really gorgeous fabric, there was some shiny fabric and there was some soft, and I really always have loved fabric anyway, so I selected some colors and textures that spoke to me, but I had no clue what I was going to do. As I sat down at the table with all of these little pieces of fabric, all these beautiful colors and lush feelings, I started seeing a tropical sunset.

So I started laying the fabric out and it came to me that my Dad’s story about how he got to America would be interesting. People might like hearing about that. Well an interesting thing happened as I put the sunset colors together, I thought about the mountain, the Rainmaker, which is what he saw every morning as a boy when he woke up in his village. The Rainmaker is the biggest thing on that small island. I started thinking about all the things that he had told me about his life in Samoa and how different it was when he “came over” to America.

He was seventeen at the time he stowed away and the war was already well underway. The South Pacific was crawling with sailors and their families. My Dad saw things at home that he had never seen before. They brought so many new and different things and they wore very different clothes. My whole family was really intrigued with the Americans. They got an American magazine; it was a Good Housekeeping or the New Yorker or something like that. My Dad and his brothers and sisters would go through the book over and over again.

My Dad just couldn’t figure out what a skyscraper was. That really intrigued him and it got the best of him. He just had to know what a skyscraper was, because in his imagination, he couldn’t even think of what could scrape the sky. So he and eight other boys stowed away on a cargo ship that was docked in Pango Pango Bay. He was the youngest boy of the family and once he got here, other members of the family started coming over. I am a first generation immigrant.

Later on my sisters and my cousins and I would sit around and talk about how we kind of lost our Samoan culture, because our family that came over was searching for the American dream, and when they got here they didn’t want to be Samoan, they wanted to be American and they wanted to drive big cars and have a house and all those things that they thought America should be, so we didn’t even learn how to speak the language.

But luckily, our culture is so ingrained in a people that a lot of it did live through, like the way he lived, how he ate, and those kinds of things to this day. So these were all thoughts that were going through my mind as I worked on the quilt, and how different it is now. Now we are trying to go back and rekindle our heritage, and ah, it was really nice to make a quilt directed toward that.”

You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.

EmmaParker

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Emma Parker

Project Manager, Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories

qsos@quiltalliance.org