Molly Upton, Watchtower, 1975
Museum of Fine Arts Collection
A large quiltI don't know what you were doing in 1975 but I was making quilts for beds, like this wool pineapple for my nephew.
Nice enough but I remember when I saw Molly Upton's work. We all said, "Far Out,"
or whatever we said in 1976. I know it wasn't "Awesome!"
But Molly's quilts were awe inspiring to those of us looking for a new vision.
Blades, Molly Upton, 1974
What was she doing?
Martha Neill Upton (1953-1977)
Over the years I've tried making a photofile of her quilts---she only worked for a few years in the mid-1970s. Like many creative people she suffered from depressions and in 1977 she jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. What would she have done in the decades since if we'd all been more fortunate and she continued to work?
Detail of Greek, 1974
92" x 80"
Nocturne Regalis, 1974
Pine Winter, 1974
These quilts are often quite large. Fanfare is 118" x 80"
Many of her quilts were shown at QuiltCon 2016 in an exhibit curated by Pam Weeks of the New England Quilt Museum.
Pam Weeks is the Binney Curator at the New England Museum. Molly
was a native New Englander so they have shown her work at the Museum.
Many visitors took photos of the quilts at QuiltCon. I've photoshopped a few of them here,
squaring up the pictures and cutting the work out of the background.
List of links to see more below.
74" x 80"
Construction published in the Quilt Engagement Calendar may have been my introduction to her work.
Symbol: Self Portrait Without a Mirror, 1976
78" x 65"
Solid color cottons were hard to find in the mid 1970s. It looks
like some of hers are fading and streaking, like this background.
Torrid Dwelling 1975, 98" x 92"
Forest Fire 1976, 40" x 56"
The Overcoat, 1976
Trip Around the Block 1976
I was talking to Pam Weeks the other day who reminded me that when Molly first began making quilts she had a design partner Susan Hoffman. At first they worked in pairs.
Susan also has a piece in the Museum's collection.
20 feet x 6-1/2 feet
Susan made Coastline while Molly made Watchtower.
See Susan's webpage: http://sdhoffman.com/quilt/index.cgi
Susan and Molly
Detail Pine Winter
I'm still in awe of Molly's sense of color and the right fabric. I've been planning a black and white quilt and I see where I have gone wrong. No tan. No other neutrals. It would have been too cold. Recalculating...
Detail of Watchtower
Photo credit: I pirated them from various bloggers:
https://artwools.com/2018/06/19/a-morning-in-lowell-then-on-the-road/lowell-susan-hoffman-and-molly-upton-early-1970s-cambridge-ma/ Susan Feller-Art Wools Studio
Fabric of a Nation has a catalog.