Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Little Quilt History from Nebraska

Art and creativity today is always influenced by the past. Even when we think we are being so original it still has ties to the past.  So it’s important to know where we came from and what were they creating?  As I get older, I really appreciate the women that molded my life and art today, even the ones I never met.

In my first year studying art at junior college, I remember being so bored by art history class.  I loved the impressionists and wanted to just study from that time period forward.   But we had to start at the beginning.  Why do we have to know this stuff? I would ask my art teacher.  She would very wisely say To be able to stand upon a firm foundation to create.  I didn't really know what she was talking about at the time but I sure do now and I can’t get enough of the history of artists, their art, and the whys and hows of their work.  What was going on in history that influenced their work and there lives?
When I use the word artist I am also including quilters. Yes, quilting is art even though it has been a much under-appreciated art form.  You can see the art so clearly when visiting the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.   This is one of the must visit sites for the art quilter.  I had the privilege of getting a private tour of the museum this last week while speaking and teaching for the Nebraska Quilt Guild. 

OMG!  Don’t mess with Nebraska - they got it all going on.

The first exhibit I saw was on the history of indigo painting and dying in America.  It was fascinating as it covered all the different processes and colors of indigo. There were many processes for adhering the indigo to the cloth over the years so it would remain permanent.  America loves its blue!

I learned so much about the process of indigo dye and all the different colors of indigo. You can see that in the quilt above.
One color sometime makes the best statement.
I love this one.  This quilt is called Britchy Quilt and was made by Maggie Smith in 1980 in Greene County, Alabama. It's hand-pieced and hand-quilted.  She removed the pockets which give a great block of deep blue.  I love the fading of the indigo jeans and  how she put this together.  Pure art.  I see a little Gees-Bend in this one.

 This next exhibit was 100 years of Quilts and their photographic history.

Quilts were used a lot in family pictures.  Do you have any old pictures of family with quilts?
This little girls has a crazy patch dolly quilt in the corner.

 This is a photo of Bertha Neiden and her award winning quilt. She was very proud of this quilt and rightly so. Someone even wrote on the picture that there are 10,222 pieces in this quilt.  She counted?
The museum has the original quilt in its collection.  It was damaged in a flood and the colors bled but that gives it a water color effect that I love.  She worked in a garment making plant and made this from the scraps.

The fabric looks like velvet but it is 100% cotton and has the look and feel of Cherry Wood fabrics. NOTE: I did not touch it.

Then there was this great picture of the Cherokee lady from Oklahoma Territory quilting an Irish Chain.  They met at the church once a week and quilted together.  Someone listed all their names on the back of the photo.  That is what my great-grandma Lula Youngblood-Standlee did and she was Cherokee.  Quilting is in my blood.
Nothing says America better on Saint Patrick's Day than a group of Native American women working on an Irish Chain Quilt in red and green.

 A blizzard blew me into the state of Nebraska but the quilts and quilters lit my fire. 
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