Monday, June 28, 2010

Red, white & blue

The birthday of the United States of America — Independence Day — is celebrated on the Fourth of July. The holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  The Declaration of Independence is perhaps best known for its second sentence, a sweeping statement of human rights: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  In honor of the upcoming holiday, we've selected a few outstanding red, white and blue quilts that serve as powerful reminders of the spirit of independence - both as a nation, and as individuals.

Attic windows - a Soldier's Quilt, 42 x 56, by Darlene Douglass at Douglass Arts

The magnificent "Attic Windows - A Soldier’s Quilt" was machine pieced by Darlene Douglass and quilted by Sandy Henricks of Sun City Quilters.  The quilt was presented to a wounded soldier at Ft. Hood, Texas, in April 2008.  The red-and-white attic windows are filled with white stars on a blue field, as if we are seeing the American flag through the windows. The striking border is made of red-and-white striped hearts festooned with stars. The inscription reads: "Welcome Home! Made for you with love and Appreciation for your courage, Service, and sacrifice for our country. A Sun City Quilter, Georgetown, TX." Darlene Douglass creates beautiful quilts of many designs; to view more of her outstanding work, see the Douglass Arts Quilt Gallery.

We dare not forget that we are the heirs of that first revolution. ~ John F. Kennedy

 Flag Quilt, 77 1/4 x 78 3/4, ca. 1898, by Mary C. Baxter, from the collection of the American Folk Art Museum

According to oral tradition, the Flag Quilt was made at the time of the Spanish-American War in 1898.   All of the flags and the shield in the center of the quilt have thirteen stars, a reference to the thirteen original colonies. For more information, see this American Folk Art Museum webpage.   The quilt graced the cover of the 1986 book, All Flags Flying: American Patriotic Quilts as Expressions of Liberty.

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.  ~ William Faulkner

Freedom Quilt, 74 x 68, by Jessie B. Telfair, 1983, from the collection of the American Folk Art Museum

The concept of a freedom quilt can be traced at least as far back as the Civil War, when women were urged to “prick the slave-owner’s conscience” by embroidering antislavery slogans and images into their needlework. This is one of several freedom quilts that Jessie Telfair (b. 1913-d. 1986) made as a response to losing her job after she attempted to register to vote. It evokes the Civil Rights Movement through the powerful invocation of one word, “freedom,” formed from bold block letters along a horizontal axis.  To read about the quilt, see the American Folk Art Museum webpage.

Coming up :  Stay tuned  for our "Celebration of Freedom" post this Wednesday - it's a launch party for a spectacular quilt pattern!

Image credits: The quilt images above are shown with the generous permission of Darlene Douglass and the American Folk Art Museum, respectively.

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