Thursday, September 13, 2012

Inspired by African American Quilts

Many of us are inspired by African American quilts.
  


This quilt, part of Corinne Riley's Bold Expressions collection, was made in Texas in the 1950's.  When I saw it recently, it just took my breath away.    




So I'm working on making my own version of it.  




I can only try to imagine what it was like to be an African American woman in Texas in the 1950's, living with oppression, poverty and long, hard working days.  

As I cut, sew, and discover the surprises in this quilt, I feel like I might begin to understand the joy and freedom that quilt making provided for these women.  

With limited time and materials, these women found ways to express their individuality, creativity, and humor.  It was one small part of their lives they could call their own.   

These quilts were essential, made to keep their families warm.  Yet the makers found ways to have fun with them.  When they were creating quilts, they could do exactly what they wanted to do.  

As one quilt maker friend said, "They never heard of the quilt police."  



I've made a few other quilts inspired by African American quilts.  This one inspired by Anna Williams.




Each one has been so much fun to make.  





Having no patterns or templates, they're impossible to replicate.





Sometimes we call them "improvisational," "intuitive," or "wonky."


I'll call them tributes to African American quilt makers. 



If you make quilts inspired by African American quilts, I've created a Flickr group where you can post your quilt photos.  It'll be ongoing and open to everyone.  Just go over there, add your photos, and enjoy the inspiration!  




This is inspired by an African American quilt in the book, Bold Improvisation, by Scott Heffley.  

Be sure to see Smazoochie's QAL for more great "Streak of Lightning" quilts!




  










35 comments:

audrey said...

I love your amazing quilts. They are absolutely beautiful!

Helen in the UK said...

Love the way the colours are used - particularly the red (my fav!). Wonderful quilts :)

Rachaeldaisy said...

LeeAnn, You totally Rock!! We're so lucky that these inspirational quilts have been documented and shared and seeing your wonderful interpretations just keep that inspiration going.

Jackie said...

I must say that I LOVE your versions! Bright and bold!!

FabricFascination said...

I liked each one even more than the one before. Thanks for sharing these.

Sujata Shah said...

LeeAnn,
That quilt is one of my most favorites from the collection. Love everything about that quilt. It is also on my list to make. Can't wait to get it going now that I saw yours. Love the colors and fabrics you chose.
I will check out the flickr page. Thanks for starting it.

fiberchick said...

I absolutely love your interpretations!!!

patty a. said...

The quilts are fabulous! I am very much into doing this kind of quiltmaking.

Julie Fukuda said...

I have never met the "quilt police". My rule ... If it works for you, it is the right way.
Thanks for the inspiration.

smazoochie said...

Quilts -- antique & vintage -- can truly be a window to the time, place. We can also 'see' the woman who made something her family needed & was also able to feed & free her soul.
Thanks for reminding of us of that .

Quiltdivajulie said...

Outstanding post . . .

I love your work!

Off to look at the new album now.

Exuberant Color said...

Thanks for the great post! It is wonderful to see them all together. I saw Anna Williams' tops in person in 1992 or 1993 at QSDS and they were wonderful!

JaneB said...

The African American quilts are so inspiring and your responses are, too. The new quilt is so up beat and happy. Your observation of how you felt while working on it and your link to the original maker's circumstances and her feelings is intriguing. I think you've got it.

Cindy said...

I always love to see what you've been working on. Love your eye for color. Thank you for the inspiration!

Helen said...

Your version inspired by the Texas 50's quilt looks thoroughly modern! Dynamite!!!

Carla said...

What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing...LOVE!

MariQuilts said...

I love all your interpretations...so fabulous. I love that first quilt...and to think it was made in the fifties. It has such a fresh modern look.

Karen said...

I have never done one of these before, but I do understand what freedom there must be in creating one of these. Great quilts!

Marit said...

Fun to see them all together like this!
I really like your idea of learning by making your own version. They are all very beautiful. The (corduroy) tied one is my current favorite. And streak of lightening is on my to do list.
Your wip is very playful. Look forward to following along.

sheila 77 said...

Thanks for a great show of quilts, with lovely combinations of colours and patterns. These are quilts that make you happy just to look at them. The Quilt Police were alive and well at the Birmingham UK quilt show this year, where the judging incuded "carefully ... looking at the backs as well as the fronts". Now why would you want to look at the back of an art quilt, nor of a bed quilt come to that? Your own version of these quilts looks really good fun to make.

Tonya Ricucci said...

agh, i think blogger just ate my comment. love all of your quilts and definitely the one you're working on now. fab!

amandajean said...

Such beautiful and inspiring quilts!!!

Barb said...

It was so wonderful to see your quilts this morning.
I love the colors of the last one and tying.
Thanks for the mini quilt show

Mary Keasler said...

What a fabulous idea! To form a Flickr group. Your quilts are such cheerful interpretations of the originals. I love them all, each one inspiring and beautiful .

shannon said...

lovely!! thanks for sharing~

Ailsa (Cape Pincushion) said...

Wonderful inspiration and I love you quilt! Just fabulous as always!

pratima said...

You captured the essence of these quilts beautifully in your works! The colors are brilliant!

Annie said...

Fantastic...I love quilting when there are no "quilt police" involved

Cathy said...

Wow wow wow LeeAnn, your African American inspired quilts are incredible, you could have your own showing with these. You are totally inspiring me to do one myself. Thank you for showing these. xo

homeschooled said...

Great photos. I just love the quilt, inspired by Anna Williams..

~Niki~ said...

love the look of solids with pattern like you did.

Sharon said...

Wow! Your versions of these quilts are so great. This style fits you

Anonymous said...

The first 2 remind me of wonky viginas.

Kathie said...

I always love coming and visiting just for the burst of color and always impressed with your quilts and style
ah yes, I still need to make that quilt like yours...I just LOVE the graphicness of it...
thanks for the quilt show I needed that this afternoon
Kathie

DH Stitches said...

I was in Seattle to see my daughter and attend Quilt Adventure 3 in Bellingham and was able to go by the museum in Bellevue to see the show of African American quilts. Thoroughly enjoyed it! Great inspiration for improvisational free-wheeling funky fun quiltmaking.