Quilts & Conversation

By: Amy Beck, marketing and communications manager on August 4th, 2021

When thinking of quilts, what family stories are woven into your memories?

While looking at a crib quilt I made years ago, I think of an impish cat, a slippery floor, and a jumble of fabric squares. A friend convinced me to take a machine quilting class with her, and one week’s homework was to lay out and pin together fabric squares in the design of our choosing. Swatches placed on my Florida home’s smooth terrazzo floor didn’t stay assembled long before that cat appeared out of nowhere, skidding into and sending the scraps flying.

Nora McKeown Ezell, Eutaw, Alabama, Star Quilt, 1977; courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum; photo by Scott Bowron

Like a quilt, Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts, on view through Sunday, August 29, features layers of meaning stitched together with many ideas to explore.

Visiting the Woodson Art Museum with friends or family can spark conversation and storytelling all wrapped up in quilts.

Artist unknown, India, Soldier’s Quilt, 1850-75; courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum; gift of Altria Group, Inc.; photo by Gavin Ashworth

Intriguing analogies are a common thread, too, encouraging deeper reflection and discussion about varied themes. Star Quilt, for example, was inspired by celestial navigation used by those escaping slavery on the Underground Railroad. While marveling at the intricately cut and layered wool in Soldier’s Quilt, consider why wounded soldiers were encouraged to make quilts as a way to heal during convalescence. Handstitched Worlds also broadens the idea of a quilt to encompass disparate pieces of wooden debris from Hurricane Katrina, transformed into an object of beauty and hope.

What new quilt-related memories might you assemble by visiting and strengthening connections with others this summer?

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