Yesterday I shared lunch with Katharine Cobey and Alice Seeger in preparation for tomorrow’s trip to Gee’s Bend Alabama. With Katharine’s guidance, a stack of books and 100’s of hours logged into internet research, I have begun to appreciate the syncopation and rhythm of these incredible quilts.
When I first started down this path, honestly I didn’t see what all of the excitement was about…my novice eyes saw raw edges, rectangles gone awry and blocks that didn’t quite fit the pattern. Now I am beginning to see music transposed onto fabric backdrops…thoughtfully designed to warm the body and celebrate the soul. The fabric says so much about how we live and what we wrap ourselves in…first as clothing (sturdy or delicate, worn or new) and then as pieces in the quilt (strips or triangles, juxtaposed or highlighted).
The pictures I’m looking at go way beyond “beauty” in the sense of something predictable and pretty…they speak of choices pulled from a pile, a heap of “stuff” that those closest to us toss onto our kitchen table (like junk mail or emotions accumulated after a hard week)…the women of Gee’s Bend have given us a visual vocabulary for the way we all live our lives and make decisions every single day.
So many of the choices we make are dictated by our responsibilities and the obligations we’ve made to others…but this is not true of the creations we foster with our own hearts and hands. This year our theme is drawn from the wisdom of 10 generations of quilters living in a hamlet of central Alabama, this year you are encouraged to: “Do it Your Way”