Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Founding Mothers": A new look at an old quilt


"Founding Mothers" is a quilt I made in Indiana many years ago.  (And yes, before Cokie Roberts wrote her book of the same title!) It grew out of a school project that Anna was doing when she was in fifth grade.  It was called the Living Museum.  The students had to choose a person from American history, write a speech about that person, dress like them, and then when the parents visited, they stood up gave their speech.  When Anna came home after the parts had been chosen, I asked her who she was going to be and she said Martin Van Buren.  I asked why she wasn't portraying a famous woman and she said, "Because, Mom.  There was only Betsey Ross and Pocahontas on the list and somebody already got them."  I suggested that we call her teacher and ask if we could research another famous American woman.  Naturally, he agreed and we set to work going to the library to do some research.  She ended up portraying Deborah Sampson, a woman who had dressed as a man to fight in the American Revolution.  That research was the beginning of this quilt.
 Naturally, the American flag color scheme was sort of a no-brainer given the Betsey Ross beginnings of the research.  The little quilt in the center has blocks that commemorate special women or things that affect women. Anna has a little block all her own!  The center is a cross-stitch of Abigail Adams famous quote exhorting her husband to "remember the ladies." If you click on the photo above to enlarge it, you can see that the quilting lines are actually names of American women I wanted to commemorate.  My mother, and both of my grandmothers are included.  The photos above were only on slides until we recently had our slide collections digitized.  I'm glad to get to share some of my older work.
This is also one of the little center blocks.  The quote is from Florynce Kennedy, an American lawyer, feminist, and civil rights activist: "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."  I made a tiny hanger out of wire and the little banner says, "Remember Roe vs. Wade."  This quilt was displayed at the Indiana State Fair  around 1982.  It won a ribbon, but the quilt was draped to hide this block.  Another time, it was on display at a museum and one of the docents found a man trying to remove the little hanger from the block.

This post today was prompted by something one of my friends. a young educator and feminist, posted on Facebook.
from the Americans Against the Republican Party Facebook page

I know this is a volatile issue, but whatever your belief, the way to end abortion is not to outlaw it.  It is to end the need for abortion and that can only be done through education and access to birth control.  Quilted Librarian stepping off the soap box and back into the studio.

November 4, 2012 update:

This is why I love my family so much:


Jan said...

I am becoming more conservative as I get older which is a shock to me. I thought I would be that 80 year old woman supporting the young people ideals. I digress. I don't find this post inappropriate in any way. We all have the right to our way of believing and in what causes. Glad you posted and so glad Anna is getting the skills and enthusiasm for quilting from you. Enjoy your blog.

Dana W. Fisher said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Jan. We are fortunate to live in a country that supports freedom of speech and allows us to agree to disagree.
My very best regards to you,

pizzaeater said...

I am a conservative but am not angered by your post. I think that the idea of using women's history to create the quilt is great. I agree with you. We shouldn't ban abortions but provide education and contraceptives to render abortions useless.

Dana W. Fisher said...

I appreciate your comment so much. Thanks for visiting my blog.
Best regards,
Dana Fisher

Philippa said...

Hi Dana

Thanks for your very interesting post. I've been mulling on it for a day or so since reading it and thought I must drop you a line. Your daughter's experience with the school only offering up two women as research options is, I suspect, still not that unusal in many classrooms, in many countries. I know I've had to hunt out resources for my daughter and her friends to bring to light women that they didn't know about from NZ history within the last couple of years. However I'm sure it wouldn't be happening in any school where you were in the library!

I'm also fascinated by the thought of a quilt being hung for exhibition with part of it covered up. Of course we'd like to think that such wouldn't happen today but I suspect there are still plenty of places that would still attempt to silence such views. The more things change the more they stay the same!

I hope this finds you all safe and well as you prepare to vote. We are watching with great interest for the outcome of the elections.

Take care. Best wishes

Dana W. Fisher said...

Dear Philippa,
How lovely to hear from you and thank you so much for sharing your similar experiences. I blushed when I read, "It wouldn't be happening in any school where you were in the library." How well you know me! 'Tis true. I have a tendency to fill in those gaps that I see in any library for which I'm caretaker. We are very fortunate here in the states to have a number of stellar women writers who do non-fiction for children and focus on women as subjects.

It might be interesting to do an informal poll on Quiltart because I'll bet many of our members have had similar experiences when they've hung controversial quilts in exhibition.

Thank you, too, for your words of concern. My husband and I took advantage of early voting, but are nervously awaiting the results now along with all the world. High winds and some rain were our only brush with Hurricane Sandy, but we have extended family who have not been so lucky.
My warmest regards to you,