At the end of March, I had the enormous pleasure of spending time at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center going through their enormous collection of artifacts from the Perkioman region of Pennsylvania. Candace Perry, the collections’ curator, spoke at a local quilt guild’s meeting on the quilts in their collection that I was lucky to attend. Seeing the quilts and listening to her speak about them was really inspiring, both as a photographer and as a new-ish quilter. The texture, personal vision and fine craft of the quilts was incredible to see in person and I was really curious to see how they would work as photographs.
Ms. Perry was generous with her time and incredibly knowledgeable about the Center’s vast and varied collection. She was very passionate about it and spent quite a bit of time with me picking out artifacts from the collection.
While editing the images, I was drawn to the pictures that used the quilts as two dimensional compositions over the ones with the other objects in them. I really was thinking about the hands of the maker and how to convey details that, to me, fascinate me so much in older quilts. The quilting stitches, the piecing, the minor mistakes and the design of each of the quilts are what I look for when I see older quilts. It causes me to wonder about who that person was, what their life was like and what that work meant to them. I felt including the artifacts was creating a false history that I was uncomfortable with.
That said, I am really pleased with the way the images turned out. I wanted to visually examine the quilts and was trying to find smaller compositions within them. It was important to me to convey the intelligence of their design, the details of the makers’ hands and the way the quilts have worn over the past century.
I’ve only really included the three best images from the 6 quilts that I photographed. I’ve created a separate gallery on flickr that contains more images that I highly recommend you take a gander at.