Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mrs. Grace Averett's Quilt: Unconventional and Unexpected

Editor's Note: "Getting to Know You" is on display at Quilt House through February 6. To celebrate this show's run, International Quilt Study Center & Museum team members are sharing their impressions on select pieces from the exhibition. 

By Marin Hanson
Curator of Exhibitions

What a winner in my book and clearly by the viewers who chose Mrs. Grace Averett’s “String Quilt” as their winner. I am indeed biased as I truly love these everyday quilts, and even better yet, this one is a comforter also called a tied quilt. Everyday quilts that were made to be used could have been made very simply, humbly, and straight-forward---no need for ornamentation or elaborate design.

Why did Mrs. Grace Averett make her comforter this way? Did she make others? Did they all look like this one or did she make a variety of patterns? We shall never know the answers and can only ponder the questions.

Movement is one of the first things that strike me. You can image the waves or ripples from a boat gliding across the water. Start in the bottom lower right corner and follow the fabrics as they snake up to the upper left corner.

Her construction is marvelous in the horizontal layering of printed cottons and feed sack “strings” that create her strips. My gaze had been held primarily by the horizontal lines and the titling movement to the left. Only recently did I realize there is a vertical seam (or line) going down the center of the comforter. I love one printed fabric next to another and another and so on with just the right amount of a solid fabric. What about the solid orange? That’s the “punch” or “pop” for me. What do you think, did Mrs. Averett place those with intention or are they happy accident? Another place she draws my eye is the green printed fabric with 2 red flowers at the center of the quilt: planned or chance? Her ample use of the red ties used to hold the three layers together are visually striking. Why so many and what happened to the blank areas in the center?

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