Sunday, December 24, 2023

The Great American Quilt Contest


Lida Finnell's quilt in the Smithsonian's collection
may be the one that earned her a prize at a fair in Kentucky in 1890.

Over at our Six Know-It-Alls Facebook page we looked at contests as a reflection of quilt style last month---what was popular at the time of the contest and how the winners influenced future quilts.

Lida's certainly reflects the popularity of crazy piecing and
embroidered florals at the time.

Almost a century later a group of companies sponsored a New York City contest to celebrate the centennial of the Statue of Liberty. We can look at the entries as indications of style popularity in 1985 and 1986 when quilters around the country were considering design options.

As an article in the Chicago Tribune told us:
"Not surprisingly, the Statue of Liberty was a favorite motif. She rose above purple mountains and fruited plains in the grand prize-winner`s quilt from California, towered above cornfields in the Kansas entry and stood bravely above the shining seas in the quilt from New Jersey."

"Glorious Lady Freedom" won Moneca Calvert $20,000 as
the grand prize winner.

Judy B. Dales of New Jersey won her state prize.

"Our Lady's Crown" by Frances M. Barnes of Georgia
Not everyone used a literal picture of the monument. Frances's is a familiar pattern
called New York Beauty or Crown of Thorns,

"Step Through the Door" by Betty Boyink of Michigan

But nearly all of the entries I can find are pictorial in some fashion.
Betty's is abstract in theme and imagery.

"Light of Liberty" by Carole Ann Grotian, state winner in Massachusetts.
Carole's inspiration is the statue's base.
Laura Lane of the New England Quilt Museum adds:
The Massachusetts winner is now in the collection of the New England Quilt Museum. The quilt depicts the view you would see if you looked at the statue of Liberty from above.

"Freedom Needs No Words" by Barbara Schaffer of New Jersey

"The Promise" by Paulette Peters of Nebraska

Julia Swan, Ohio's winner

Many have some reference to traditional pattern. Julia used a
zig-zag set and a clever adaptation of a late-19th century human image.

"Liberty Medallion" by Marianne Fons, Iowa winner

Shirley Barrett of Montana

Beverly Komodo

"Freedom to Dream" by Anita Murphy of Texas

We might compare some of these entries to prize-winners in Paducah in 2023, although it's hard to see trends when one is in the middle of them. I'd say, however, that kaleidoscopic medallions are a current craze.

Pathfinder by Karla Reps

Sweet Madame Blue by Margaret Solomon Gunn

Harlequinade by Becky Prior
And literal pictorials remain popular.

Next Post----More entries in the Statue of Liberty contest.
Ask to join our Six Know-It-Alls Facebook group where we discuss a different topic in quilt history every month.

6KnowItAlls:ShowUsYourQuilts ---- https://www.facebook.com/groups/1413180019082731

1 comment:

  1. The Massachusetts winner by Carole Ann Georgian is now in the collection of the New England Quilt Museum. The quilt depicts the view you would see if you looked at the statue of Liberty from above.