Everyday Use: Alice Walker
Christian, Barbara T Rutgers University Press, 1994 Library of Congress PS3573.A425E9 1994 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Alice Walker's early story, "Everyday Use," has remained a cornerstone of her work. Her use of quilting as a metaphor for the creative legacy that African Americans inherited from their maternal ancestors changed the way we define art, women's culture, and African American lives. By putting African American women's voices at the center of the narrative for the first time, "Everyday Use" anticipated the focus of an entire generation of black women writers.
This casebook includes an introduction by the editor, a chronology of Walker's life, an authoritative text of "Everyday Use" and of "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens," an interview with Walker, six critical essays, and a bibliography. The contributors are Charlotte Pierce-Baker, Houston A. Baker, Jr., Thadious M. Davis, Margot Anne Kelley, John O'Brien, Elaine Showalter, and Mary Helen Washington.
How writers, activists, and artists without power resist dominant social, cultural, and political structures through the deployment of unconventional means and materials
In Lives, Letters, and Quilts: Women and Everyday Rhetorics of Resistance, Vanessa Kraemer Sohan applies a translingual and transmodal framework informed by feminist rhetorical practice to three distinct case studies that demonstrate women using unique and effective rhetorical strategies in political, religious, and artistic contexts. These case studies highlight a diverse set of actors uniquely situated by their race, gender, class, or religion, but who are nevertheless connected by their capacity to envision and recontextualize the seemingly ordinary means and materials available to them in order to effectively persuade others.
The Great Depression provides the backdrop for the first case study, a movement whereby thousands of elderly citizens proselytized and fundraised for a monthly pension plan dreamt up by a California doctor in the hopes of lifting themselves out of poverty. Sohan investigates how the Townsend Plan’s elderly supporters—the Townsendites—worked within and across language, genre, mode, and media to enable them for the first time to be recognized by others, and themselves, as a viable political constituency.
Next, Sohan recounts the story of Quaker minister Eliza P. Kirkbride Gurney who met President Abraham Lincoln in 1862. Their subsequent epistolary exchanges concerning conscientious objectors made such an impression on him that one of her letters was rumored to be in his pocket the night of his assassination. Their exchanges and Gurney’s own accounts of her transnational ministry in her memoir provide useful examples of how, throughout history, women rhetors have adopted and transformed typically underappreciated forms of rhetoric—such as the epideictic—for their particular purposes.
The final example focuses on the Gee’s Bend quiltmakers—a group of African American women living in rural Alabama who repurpose discarded work clothes and other cast-off fabrics into the extraordinary quilts for which they are known. By drawing on the means and materials at hand to create celebrated works of art in conditions of extreme poverty, these women show how marginalized artisans can operate both within and outside the bounds of established aesthetic traditions and communicate the particulars of their experience across cultural and economic divides.
From frontier times in the Republic of Texas until today, Texans have been making gorgeous quilts. Karoline Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes documented the first 150 years of the state’s rich heritage of quilt art in Lone Stars: A Legacy of Texas Quilts, 1836–1936 and Lone Stars II: A Legacy of Texas Quilts, 1936–1986. Now in Lone Stars III, they bring the Texas quilt story into the twenty-first century, presenting two hundred traditional and art quilts that represent “the best of the best” quilts created since 1986. The quilts in Lone Stars III display the explosion of creativity that has transformed quilting over the last quarter century. Some of the quilts tell stories, create landscapes, record events, and memorialize people. Others present abstract designs that celebrate form and color. Their makers have embraced machine quilting, as well as hand sewing, and they often embellish their quilts with buttons, beads, lace, ribbon, and even more exotic items. Each quilt is pictured in its entirely, and some entries also include photographs of quilt details. The accompanying text describes the quilt’s creation, its maker, and its physical details. With 16.3 million American quilters who spend $3.6 billion annually on their pastime, the quilting community has truly become a force to reckon with both artistically and socially. Lone Stars III is the perfect introduction to this world of creativity.
Traditional quilts serve many purposes over the course of a useful life. Beginning as a beautiful bed covering, a quilt may later function as a ground cover at picnics until years of wear relegate it to someone's ragbag for scrap uses.
Observing this life cycle led authors John Forrest and Deborah Blincoe to the idea that quilts, like living things, have a natural history that can be studied scientifically. They explore that natural history through an examination of the taxonomy, morphology, behavior, and ecology of quilts in their native environment—the homes of humans who make, use, keep, and bestow them.
The taxonomy proposed by Forrest and Blincoe is rooted in the mechanics of replicating quilts so that it can be used to understand evolutionary and genetic relationships between quilt types. The morphology section anatomizes normal and abnormal physical features of quilts, while the section on conception and birth in the life cycle discusses how the underlying processes of replication intersect with environmental factors to produce tangible objects.
This methodology is applicable to many kinds of crafts and will be of wide interest to students of folklore, anthropology, and art history. Case studies of traditional quilts and their makers in the Catskills and Appalachia add a warm, human dimension to the book.
Frugal, thrifty, enduring, colorful, comforting, warm. These words capture both the spirit of Iowa quilters through the centuries and the fabrics they stitched together. In Patchwork, Jacqueline Schmeal celebrates the lives of Iowa quilters and the enduring beauty of historic Iowa quilts.
Drawing on written records by and interviews with contemporary quilters, many of whom were born in the early years of the twentieth century, Schmeal presents the life histories of these hard-working yet inspired artists. Sisters Elsie Ball and Mary Ball Jay of Fairfield—charging one and a quarter cents per yard of thread—kept meticulous records of each of the 135 quilts they stitched between 1935 and 1970. Ivan Johnson plowed his fields by day and quilted vivid designs by night. Cloth scraps were so precious to Barbara Chupp, an Amish quilter, that she became known for her mosaic piecing. Members of the Sunshine Circle, organized in 1912 in a Quaker church in Earlham, still quilt together today. Mennonite quilter Sara Miller became famous nationwide for her fabric store, Kalona Kountry Kreations. Their stories—of impoverished childhoods, hardscrabble work, and strong families—are enhanced by over seventy color photographs of an unbelievably rich collection of historic quilts ranging from the early 1800s to the 1950s.
Offering both a glimpse into the daily lives of twentieth-century quiltmakers and an amazing treasury of Iowa's historic quilts, Patchwork is a loving tribute to the creative spirit that links modern-day quilters to the patterns and traditions of their predecessors.
Quilts of the Ohio Western Reserve includes early quilts brought from Connecticut to the Western Reserve in northeastern Ohio and contemporary quilts, including one by a conservative Amish woman and another inspired by Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Ricky Clark, one of Ohio’s foremost quilt historians, has assembled exquisite examples of calamanco, “T” quilts, and borderless pieced quilts to show the influence of Connecticut aesthetics and history on the making of early quilts in this region. Rich in color, detail, and inventiveness, and often beautifully designed, the quilts of this region commemorate community history, from town fundraisers of the 1890s to a quilt designed by a Lake Erie shipbuilder. Sections of the book include quilts made during the Civil War and for postwar veterans’ organizations as well as military and presidential quilts that relate to the history of the Western Reserve.
Quilt design in Ohio has been celebrated in biennial exhibits, round-robin quilts, and most recently proudly painted on barns in rural Ohio. Quilts of the Ohio Western Reserve, lavishly illustrated with forty color photos of quilts, launches the Ohio Quilt Series. A welcome addition to Ohio’s cultural legacy, this book will interest the wider world of quilt and textile enthusiasts and historians.
The gnarled branches of a beautiful old plum tree reach toward the sky. A mushroom hunter searches for morels among rolling hills. A small boat is tossed among the tumultuous waves of an angry sea. Striding Lines, an homage to Wisconsin artist and quilter Rumi O'Brien, presents these striking images of her work and many more, accompanied by descriptions that share the stories of each piece in the artist's own words. Each quilt represents a moment, often autobiographical, crafted with whimsy, revealing an inspired talent.
Bobbie Malone reaches beyond the quilts to tell O'Brien's own story, from her initial foray into the quilting world to her developed dedication to the craft. Contributions from leaders in the art, textile and quilting community, including Melanie Herzog and Marin Hanson, contextualize O'Brien's work in the greater community of quiltmakers and artists. This book celebrates the life and ingenuity of a Japanese-born American immigrant whose oeuvre is equally Japanese and Wisconsinite—and entirely distinctive.