I started this quilt in the days and weeks after the terrorist attacks on November 15, 2015. I thought back to the days after 9/11, the day of my 17th birthday and what I was doing then, how I soothed myself as a teenager.
I crafted a play list called Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent (put that on shuffle), filled with the music that I listened to as a teenager, music that has always reflected my rage, my sorrow back to me. I chose fabrics without much thought, selecting a huge range of values, in complimentary colors. I pulled from my stash, cut strips without a ruler and started sewing. My pace was fast and my actions were deliberate. Bands like Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and Refused the soundtrack to my making, simultaneously nostalgic and yet completely relevant.
I had been contemplating Chinese Coin quilts for awhile, enamored by their simple construction and endless variations. I re-purposed those vertical compositions while playing with my strip sets and found this while figuring out how to use as much of the those strip sets as possible. Here, light and dark move towards and away from one another. The eye travels both up and down, rests in the grey at the bottom and is then pulled back in by the thin light colored bands that dangle into the expanse of negative space.
The asymmetry and dense hand quilting combine to make a subtle, textural design element. This quilt has wool batting, a first and something I will be revisiting. It is dreamy to hand quilt though and gives this quilt serious texture.
I realized while taking these photos and while finishing two other quilts something fundamentally important to my making. By pushing the traditional quilt pattern into the unexpected, the quilt evolves into a vessel for self-expression and contemplation. I’ve been thinking about that in planning new pieces, which mostly live in my head at this point in my life.
It seems appropriate that I finish this quilt (because pics or it didn’t happen) in the wake of the past week, the political climate of the United States ugly and toxic. In the decade and half since my 17th birthday, I have watched this country split and divide along party, class, race and gender lines. I have seen reality splinter, people moving away from one another because of those differences in order to keep themselves comfortable, so that they do not have to confront deeply held assumptions about the world. I can not and will not make a generic statement about our unity because it is naive to think such a thing was ever reality for so many people in this country.