During the 19th century in America, men and
women traveled in wagons from the East Coast across the country
to the West Coast. Along the way, many left the caravan to
settle harsh and rugged territories. To brighten their homes
and warm their beds, women created quilts made from used shirts,
old dresses, food sacks, and worn tablecloths. After putting
all these stray pieces together, they discovered the beauty
of art in their patched works.
This art form grew as women made quilts to celebrate
weddings, to rejoice in newborn babies, and to commemorate
the lives of departed friends. Often the political voices
of these women, so frequently unheard, began to be expressed
in their fabric art. Statements against war and slavery, for
women’s right to vote, and for political freedom worked
their way into these women’s quilts.
With time, the fabric they used in their quilts
became a little better. The stitches they invented became
a bit more sophisticated. Their art began to take shape, an
art which gave expression to the needed and silent voices
of women artists. This art form continues today in the quilts
of Melody Gordon-Healy.