Who I Am
Yes, I did all that in the 20th century and it was grand. I was an amateur, then a professional, then a hobbyist, then a disengaged bystander. The 21st century brought me back to the field in ways that I can’t get words for.
Some things don’t make for very interesting reading, lists of accomplishments for example. Those lists are here for reference. Click on Exhibits, Publications or Speaking Events and Featured Collections, for all the details but here I’d rather tell you about some of the things that stand out to me.
The Indian Ocean is turquoise. I know this because I was invited to do a teaching tour and to be the keynote speaker at the 1st South African International Quilt Symposium (1991). A roomful of Zulu woman sang to me at the end of our day. They sounded like they belonged on a Paul Simon album and I was moved to tears. It was to be my last teaching engagement. During those South African classes I had to admit I was no longer able to be of service to my students.
Now it’s the 21st century and the worst case scenario hasn’t been fulfilled. Over two decades of persistent hope and proper treatment has given me enough usable eyesight that I can quilt again. I’ve done a little exhibiting but I still don’t see well enough to teach and I probably won’t ever achieve the same level of technical excellence I had in the 20th century. Those aren’t the only reasons to make a quilt.
In 2005 Daddy came to live with us. The elder care lifestyle wasn’t something either of us had much experience with. We found our way through the shared activity of making quilts. We planned and pieced dozens of tops. It gave Daddy a sense of purpose and me a bit of peace and quiet with a thimble on in the middle of the night. Daddy has passed but our quilts remain, forming an enormous collection of memories and finished works aptly called Daddy’s Favorites. Currently I’ve quilted the first 21 and the stack of tops on the shelf leaves me to estimate there are about three dozen more waiting.
That’s not all that’s happening in the 21st century. I always keep the next Daddy’s Favorite in one frame and another current piece (or 2 or 3) in another frame. As I start any new piece I still ask what has always been the initial question for me: what does the quilt need to say? There’s plenty to talk about, plenty of ideas and issues to give form to, plenty that needs to be said. There’s Jessica and Malala, AIDS orphans, thoughts on living an ethical life, dreams and visions that can be said with fabric, things that can’t be put into words. . .