This week is the opening of Form not Function, at the Carnegie Center for Arts and History, New Albany, Indiana.
This is the first time I have had a quilt accepted for this exhibition, so I am delighted to tell a little bit more about it, and the interesting back story behind it.
I have had a copy of Quilts of Indiana: Crossroads of Memories, since it came out in the early 1990's. A record of the Indiana Quilt Registry Project, the quilts are very well documented, and are a fascinating visual history of women and the times they lived through. One quilt story stood out for me. It was a Mariner's Compass quilt, made by Susan Brackney Clayton (1848- 1942) when she was a preteen girl. The book documents the quilt as it is today, a photo of the maker with the quilt, and excerpts from her extensive diaries, all cherished by her family. Her poignant words, written so long ago, have drawn me back again and again.
The diary selections were written in 1890, from a sod house near Elton, Nebraska. Susan writes with longing for the home and loved ones left behind in Indiana, and the loneliness and isolation "far away on western prairie wild. I can look as far as my eyes will let me see...it is one vast prairie there is not a tree..." (pg 41) She speaks about the quiet, the stillness, except for an ever-blowing wind. Hers are the words of a woman that has been uprooted, separated.
My quilt, Territorial Road: Crosses and Losses, was inspired by Susan Brackney Clayton's writings. The quilt imagines an expanse of night sky, over a tiny sod structure. I have used stitching (lots) to suggest the endless starry firmament and the blowing wind. My intention is that this will be the first in a series of quilts on this theme. I have a very damaged cats cradle pattern quilt from the 1890's that might give a structure to further visual ideas.
Yesterday I looked into the alley and saw a huge turtle, about 10 inches end to end. This is particularly remarkable because I live smack in the city, though about two blocks from the St. Joseph River. In many cultures this is considered to be very auspicious, so I invited the turtle in through the gate and watched it move on, probably looking for love, and a mate. I gave the men that mow the lawn next door a heads-up to be careful of this lovely turtle.
Take a look at Amy Meissner's blog post about the jaw-dropping solo show she has opened at the Anchorage Museum, called The Inheritance Project. I have long admired Amy's textile work, but am equally taken by how beautifully she writes. I wish I could see this show in person, Alaska seems so very far away.