Sunday, September 22, 2013

So, I Made a Trip to the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza Today..., Part One, The Serious Stuff

The Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza is one of my favorite events of the year. It's only about an hour and a half away from where I live, the displays are always incredible, and, well, there are more quilt-related vendors than you can shake a stick at. I took lots of photos, some because the quilts reminded me of friends and family, some because I really liked the pattern and want to add them to my "someday" list of quilts to make, and some because they made me feel something. The latter are what I'll post here. Quilts can make such a powerful statement, both in looking at them and in reading the descriptions included by the quilters. I love reading the descriptions and learning more about the quilter and the quilt's story.

Forgive me, this is going to be a really long post, because there is just so much I want to share. And these are just the quilts that had a message; next time I'll post the quilts that made me laugh. All photos were taken by me today (Sep. 22, 2013) at the quilt fest, but obviously the quilts are property of their makers. I am truly awed by the talents of the women and men who contribute quilts to these shows.

"Echoes of the Past", by Sandy Curran, Newport News, VA. I just thought this portrait of Harriet Tubman was incredibly well done. The quilter even added a railroad track in the quilting (close-up), along with three words that describe Ms. Tubman so well: courage, sacrifice, freedom. 

"Brother Against Brother", by Bonita Cantrell, Vernon, AL. This was one of the first quilts I saw when I walked into the quilt show, and it hit me hard. Mostly because, in many ways, for many reasons, we are still a fractured nation with deep divides and much hatred. 

"Symbols of Peace", by Zahra Golami and her nephew, Karajh, Iran. Simple, but still gut-wrenching. Part of the "Quilt for Change, Inspiring Social Change Through the Art of Quilting" exhibit. Their theme was "Women, Peace and Security". 

I didn't take photos of all of the quilts in this category, but there was one more that I want to share here:

"The Mending", by Lea McComas, Superior, Colorado. This was constructed from photos that were printed on fabric, ripped apart, shot at (those little red circles at the top), and burned (see red amoeba shape on left side). The red yarn is stitching together the life again. (Don't those arms look incredibly realistic? I keep thinking someone stuck their arms in front of my camera.) You can see fuller descriptions of this and the other challenge quilt at the Quilt for Change web site. 

"Gone", by Laura Bisagna, Winchester, CA. This woman found out her house was destroyed by a fire from an online photo, while she was still evacuated. The plaid "houses" are from pajamas she packed in her evacuation suitcase. The black plots are actually holes in the quilt; the black is really the divider behind the quilt. Obviously, there were a lot of others who also lost their house in that fire.

"Come Hell or High Water", by Brenda Zangre, West Hempstead, NY. This portrays the heights of the tsunami after the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011; the long orange 'finger' pointing toward the right reached the US coast. And I didn't notice until I read the description, but the photos are loosely arranged like a 'cause' ribbon. Her description ended, "Sadly, sometimes you just can't go home."

From too much water to too little:

"Nature's Beauty", by Shoshi Rimer, Bat Yam, Israel. This quilter portrayed a waterfall as being made of gold, illustrating the value of the water after a drought. 

All of these focus on serious topics, showing how much can be said with a quilted image. Quilts have historically been used to encourage social change, and the artists today continue to push boundaries to grab you by throat. 

Peace, friends.


  1. What amazing art quilts and messages they bring. Thanks for the peek.

  2. Thanks for your very kind words. Echos of The Past was inspired by a friend of mine who wanted to make a portrait of Harriet Tubman for an invitational exhibit for a local museum. She didn't know how to do portrait, which I what I do most of the time, so I made the pattern for her and was so moved by Harriet Tubman's biography that I made one for myself too. I am so very glad you found it moving. I would encourage everyone to read the Wikipedia biography of Harriet Tubman. She was extraordinary.

    Thanks again,

    1. Sandy, thank you for giving me (us) more behind-the-scenes about your incredible Harriet Tubman quilt! She really was an incredible woman, and I'm sure what she did goes even beyond what was recorded by others. I really thought your quilt was beautifully done, and I'm glad I got to see it in person. :)