One of my favorite questions that’s occasionally asked as part of a Q.S.O.S. interview is “In what ways do your quilts reflect your community or region?“. I love to read the great diversity of answers to this question–some quiltmakers are eager to explain how the colors of the natural world or traditions of their state appear again and again in their quilts, while others say their work is something that could be done anywhere and isn’t specific to a certain place. Judy Coates Perez, a quilter interviewed at the 2011 International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, shared a stunning quilt with an underwater scene inspired by Texas’ early (very, very early!) history. Judy talked in her interview about how this quilt–and many of her quilts–are influenced by the world around her:
“This quilt is ‘Primordial Sea’ and I made it in 2005 after living in Texas. We lived in Austin, Texas for seven years and while we were there my son became obsessed with fossils. We spent a lot of time looking around in the creek beds of Austin [Texas.] collecting fossils and it led to many discussions about the geological history of Texas and how it used to be underwater and why there were seashells in the middle of Texas.
I would think about, ‘wow I wonder what that was like? What was a primordial sea like?’ After thinking about that I decided to make a quilt…
CC: Aside from the quilting community that you’re in, is there any particular way that you think that where you have lived has influenced the way that you quilt?
JP: It completely influences the imagery. I have so many pieces that are about where I’ve lived and that are about experiences that I’ve had. A lot of my work is very multi-cultural. When I was a kid, we moved out of our house when I was 13 and put everything in storage. I lived in Massachusetts at the time. We drove to Guatemala and spent a year traveling. We went all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala. We rented a house in Guatemala for six weeks and really got immersed in the culture. That has been a huge influence in a lot of my work: the colors, the imagery, that all comes into play. This quilt, ‘Primordial Sea’, is really about my life in Texas. I have another quilt that’s a big agave plant that’s about my time in Los Angeles when one of our homes that was up on a hill in a canyon. Often where I’ve lived has influenced my work in the imagery or colors or something about it.”
You can read more stories from the International Quilt Festival (and hundreds of other locations!) at the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Alliance’s site.