This simple post is about one of the oldest forms of material story-telling: quilt making. I love thinking about the history of quilts, and how Yvette brings to mind that there is still a desperate need to help keep people warm in many parts of the country. Quilts are practical, and a form of expression–which is pretty great if you think about it. In many ways, quilting reminds me of hardcore DIY culture–and I am starting to think I might like to start myself . . .
Upside-Down Art: Anita’s Appalachian Art
by Yvette Autin Warren
So much of what we call “art” is simply the ways in which others tell their stories. Artworks are often celebrations of the lives of everyday individuals. These celebrations can be created in many differing forms. In Appalachia, a common way to memorialize special moments, beliefs, and memories is with quilting. It was not uncommon, in years gone by, to see quilt frames fastened to the ceilings of family living rooms with pulleys for lifting them out of the way when the room was needed for other purposes.
Women would sit around the frame, telling stories as they stitched stories from fabrics not large enough to be used for anything other than quilt pieces. Most of these masterpieces were actually used to keep kids and other family members from freezing. In many areas of Appalachia, quilting has evolved into an elaborate art form. At the home of Anita, in Coker Creek, Tennessee, this evolution is amazingly advanced.
Anita seems to quilt like other people breathe, both as gifts for her family and for many whom she will never meet. She is involved in an effort to soothe children who are experiencing trauma with the gift of the handiwork of many women who quietly care. In the tiny artists’ hamlet of Coker Creek, Tennessee, hundreds of quilts are made by dozens of women working separately and together on artistic Quilts For Kids, which happens to be the name of their organization that spearheads the group’s efforts. For more information on the group, you can click here.
©2014 Yvette Autin Warren
Yvette Autin Warren is the author of 3 books, available here. Her other writings can be found on Patheos here or TnMtnHome.blogspot.com, OneFamilyManyFaiths.blogspot.com, and http://worldpulse.com/user/13827/journal.