Monday, February 20, 2006

Symbolic Quilts

I took an English class a few years ago, Literature of Death and Dying. It was, surprisingly, amazingly inspiring.
Thought provoking, interesting, and a class where everyone got involved in the discussion.
For a final project, I did a presentation and a paper on mourning quilts--quilts that are made to memorialize a loved one, and/or enable the family closure of some sort.
The fabrics in these items might use funerary ribbons, old clothing, etc.
I was so fascinated, I read 30 books and numerous internet articles on the subject.
I could have written a thesis.
Anyway, this was one of the publications I used for photographs in my slide presentation.
I started my own quilt also--about the end of a relationship I had just experienced (its own form of death), but I have not yet finished it.
It includes torn pages of a book, an old doll's head, and quilt blocks in the Storm at Sea pattern. Posted by Picasa

The subject matters of the quilts in this booklet are about natural catastrophies, deaths in the family, or personal struggles.
This quilt, Holding it Together, by Gretchen B. Hill, is cut at the top and the jagged edges are held together with safety pins.
It's about the stress of her husband being diagnosed with cancer, and then about the healing of his body and their stress. Posted by Picasa

I love this quilt, entitled Final Flight, by Judy B. Dales.
It was made in memory of the quilter's friend Doreen.
Doreen's ashes were released over sea, and the author's description of the event is what inspired the construction of this quilt:
"As we gathered at the ship's stern, we said a few words and Megan (Doreen's daughter) released the ashes. Expecting them to drop straight down and disappear from sight, I was quite enchanted to see them captured by the breeze, lifted up and away, each little puff drifting off in another direction. This is the moment I have tried to capture in Final Flight. It symbolizes the ongoing journey of the soul and my hope that Doreen's spirit also flies free and unencumbered." Posted by Picasa

Another quilt by Judy B. Dales, entitled Final Flight.
Dales said the quilt helped her grieve the loss of her mother, and "This quilt expresses belief in the continuing journey of the human soul. Being with my mother at the moment of her death convinced me beyond a doubt that the soul is separate and distinct from the body."
Dales said she was visited by an apparition several times, and it offered her peace when she realized it was the spirit of her mother. "The entire quilt represents the flight into the unknown which begins at the moment of death.
The brilliant stars floating on a backdrop represent heavenly possibilities, and the tears
symbolize the grief that we on earth experience when a beloved's soul departs." Posted by Picasa

Breaking Point, by Vikki Pignatelli.
"This tree is a tribute to endurance.
When stress becomes overwhelming, one way to survive is to bend and ride out the storm rather than fight against it
." Posted by Picasa

Far and Away, by Judith Vierow.
Hand-painted, dyed, and stamped, it was a cathartic work about the Oklahoma City bombing. Posted by Picasa

Passage, by Ricky Tims.
Tims is both a pianist and an artist, and this quilt is the cover art for the CD of a concert he conducted that was intended to provide comfort for people experiencing all kinds of loss.
Tims says the passageway represents the physical (life experiences and changes therein), but also the unknown and what lies beyond this life. "I thought of the open door at the end of a passageway--an image that's not scary, but inviting. It speaks to the mystery of the unknown."
"The creative process for my music and quilting is the same. I sit at the piano and compose on the spot. I can do the same thing at my sewing machine. My music and my quilts are my legacy."

Think of your time spent crafting and creating as being what you leave behind...what gives you definition.
It's interesting to note that bold American women crossing the western frontier during the 19th century would create quilts from any available fabric (worn clothing, feed sacks, etc), and their signatures on these quilts are sometimes the only evidence of their having lived--census takers were only concerned with the men.

Think about that for a second.

And craft with purpose. Quality over quantity. Never settle for mediocre. Make your art as well as your life something that is moving and meaningfulPosted by Picasa

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Anonymous cocoschmidt said...

I recently happened upon your blog while updating my content on my yahoo. Thank you for sharing so many interesting articles. This most recent one particularly touched me and I appreciate it very much. The depth at which you share your feelings is amazing- and I am in awe- Coco

4:17 AM  
Blogger The Calico Cat said...

Very nice post.... Very thought provoking....

4:57 AM  
Blogger Barb said...

Coco: I don't have your email address or I would send you a private comment. I hope you check back here. I appreciate your reading and commenting sooo much! Thank you. (And of course thanks to Amy too).

1:18 PM  
Blogger Will Powers said...

Final Flight, Breaking Point and Passage are fantastic! I never knew quilts could be "art"...I'd probably buy Final Flight but would be happy with BP too. How much do these quilts cost? Are they originals or like mass produced?

12:55 PM  
Blogger Sister Shirley said...

These quilts are amazing!

1:33 PM  

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