Wrapped is a triptych of quilted wall hangings that I have produced from my parents’ worn clothing. Each quilt represents one of us: Mom’s on the left, Dad’s on the right, mine in the middle. Along with elements of design like color, line, and texture, I drew inspiration from twenty-two years of my parents separately investing in my life. The designs of each quilt communicate more of an abstract idea of my upbringing in two different homes, our personalities, my relationship with each parent, and the fusion of broken pieces to form a complete life.
The theme of “brokenness” is not literally depicted, but instead portrayed through the surface design of each quilt. Stylistically, I chose to have each quilt resemble stained glass – having many pieces of fabric that make a larger, more intricate image when together. I also wanted this show to incorporate the storytelling quality of stained glass. Just as stained glass windows were used in churches to tell stories, these quilts will narrate my story. Quilting my parents’ clothing quite literally represents them and me. Quilts are useful objects found in the home, and the idea of “home” is a huge part of my show’s concept. Both the quilt and home are symbols, and represent protection and shelter, which is key in any individual’s growth towards independence.
The process of creating and producing each quilt was generally the same for all three pieces. I collected the old clothes from both my mother and father. After some sketching, I constructed the top surface by either piecing cut fabric together or using a fusible web called Wonder Under to adhere the fabric to a piece of muslin. I used black bias tape on the quilt fronts to mirror stained glass. After finishing the fronts of each wall hanging, I layered the finished fronts on top of batting and a backing that were equally sized. I machine-quilted each wall hanging, then finished the sides with quilt binding
I believe that family is a huge part of everybody’s story, whether their family is present or absent from one’s life. The influence of a family is and will always be there, and I believe they partly shape people into who they are. For me, my family is priceless. Through all of the brokenness in my family, there comes retrospective beauty, understanding, and appreciation. Just as this brokenness brings about beauty, the ugliness of divorce is complimented through the beauty of the quilts.
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© 2012 Courtney Cox, All Rights Reserved
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19 July 2022
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Fiber arts, quilting