By The National Quilt Museum

What's in a Name?

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Can the title of an artwork influence your perception or interpretation of that piece?  Explore quilts from the National Quilt Museum collection and examine the individual artist's intentions.

Flotsam (1995) by Libby LehmanThe National Quilt Museum

"Me and my quilts are 50/50. They have a mind of their own. I like to select the perfect name for each of my quilts, which is like naming children, except you already know what they are going to be when they grow up. I like the name Flotsam for this quilt because it's fun to think of beauty in swirling, floating debris."
- Libby Lehman

Teneramente (with Tender Emotion) (2006) by Katie Pasquini MasopustThe National Quilt Museum

"Teneramente" is Italian translating to love tenderly, dearly, emotionally.

"Photographs are the starting point of my work. I first search out an interesting subject to photograph. I then do a drawing from the photograph and add transparencies that I call 'ghosts' to float in and out of the image. I also often add color by making a small watercolor painting that I superimpose over the first two drawings to create a many-layered image that departs from reality."
- Katie Pasquini Masopust

Seduction (1994) by Patricia (Pat) B. CampbellThe National Quilt Museum

Seduction - "Come into my parlor..."

On the left side, a spider sits inside a quilted spider web. The vining floral applique seduces and pulls you in. As you approach, the spider becomes noticeable, awaiting your arrival on its web.

Deviled and Angel (2003) by Jane Burch CochranThe National Quilt Museum

"This original design was inspired by two images I had used before but wanted to use again together. These images are the gloves forming wings and the deviled egg plate (a Southern tradition). Deviled and Angel became my 9/11 quilt since i started working on it 9/11/2002, the one-year anniversary of that horrid day. The fortunes remind us what might have been for these many lives that were taken that day."
- Jane Burch Cochran

Submergence (1989) by Erika CarterThe National Quilt Museum

"Submergence is one of my water quilts, suggesting through color the attractiveness of ocean, the desire to explore its mystery. Though the water's surface seems just within hand's reach, the depths hold our attention. However, not being a swimmer, I've experienced being caught underwater and needing to be fished out. The water's surface was bright with sunlight, but, to me, unattainable. Yet when I look at Submergence I can imagine being surrounded by water and unafraid."
- Erika Carter

Mt. St Helens, Did You Tremble? (1991) by Joyce PeadenThe National Quilt Museum

"Mount St. Helens, Did You Tremble? is the fabric scene that is the form of my fancy. It is the image of the words that flew through my mind and became a poem, as I watched the spectacular sunset through the pine trees on the hill near us the night of May 25, 1980, the day of the secondary eruption of Mount St. Helens."

One vast chalk sky
White powder on my feet
Mount St. Helens, did you tremble?
Will the world turn to sleet?
Are the slivers of your rocks
Spewed on field and hearth
Wind borne, or trailing sky sphere
On the turning of the earth?
What tortured, gnarled, writhing
In your depths, or in the sea of molten
lava of the deep confused the
errant atoms, vapors, gases?...
-Joyce Peaden

Heliacal Rise (1996) by Laura MurrayThe National Quilt Museum

"For me, quiltmaking offers an endless challenge to the compelling need for unique self-expression. There are no boundaries, other than the ones I set for myself. The design for this quilt resulted from an integration of my favorite images--the circular nature of the Mariner's compass design and the rich colors and complex designs of cotton Ikats. The name comes from Astronomy, and is the term used to describe a phenomena which happens very rarely--two stars coming very close together and forming what appears to be one large star."
- Laura Murray

Escape from Circle City (1986) by Sylvia PickellThe National Quilt Museum

"Escape From Circle City was my first attempt at 'innovative' work and was only my third or fourth large piece. It was created as a catharsis to my frustration with the winner of the Great American quilt Festival in 1986. I was in a dark mood and pulled out every shade of grey fabric I owned and threw them (literally) on the floor. I visualized an 'escape from traditional' and sketched a design. The whole quilt was drafted full size on news print, and cut apart for freezer paper patterns."
- Sylvia Pickell

68 (sixty-eight) (1980) by Pamela StudstillThe National Quilt Museum

Studstill trained as a painter but says the first thing she did after she got her B.F.A. was to make a quilt. “It was really odd,” she adds, “but I learned quilting from my Texas grandmother. She’d send us quilt blocks to work on as kids when we’d move around the country with the military. It was her way of keeping in touch with us.”

Although many of her quilts evoke landscapes, Studstill gave them numbers rather than titles because, she says, "I don't want people to think about 'things when they look at the quilts.’“
- Pamela Studstill

Bed Quilt #1 (1992) by Sonya Lee BarringtonThe National Quilt Museum

"When talking about my work, I usually call myself a craftsperson using the medium of the quilt to create high-end, functional and/or decorative items. It is imperative to please myself by making the very best technical and artistic statement possible no matter the material, be it hand-dyed cotton, recycled wool, or silk. The techniques that I use must allow me to achieve this goal. I hope to seriously engage each viewer so that she or he experiences my work to the fullest. I also hope to inspire my viewers to create work that is gratifying to them."
- Sonya Lee Barrington

Move Over Matisse I (1980) by Virginia AveryThe National Quilt Museum

"Move Over Matisse I was inspired by Matisse cut-paper art. This quilt relates to my work through the abstract shapes of vivid colors, and my free-wheeling approach to applique. I work with bright jewel tones of fabric and a lot of black which adds depth to everything. Quiltmaking taxes creativity. We are somehow compelled to go through the 'what if?' process to see what happens. Eventually, we leave our mark on line, function, form, color, and texture. There is endless excitement to this process and endless satisfaction in its completion."
- Virginia Avery

Arandano (2016) by Marilyn BadgerThe National Quilt Museum

"Arandano" translates to blueberry in English. Zoom in to enjoy the multiple blueberries on this quilt.

"This quilt took me 1 1/2 years to complete and was meant as a therapy project. I have always been known for my longarm quilting, but when my husband passed away I found that I had lost the passion for that. In trying to find my way, I decided to design and make a quilt just for me with no time schedule. That was a first since I started competing in 2002 - there was always a deadline and the quilt was never just a quilt for me. I didn't think I would ever enter this quilt but when it was nearing completion I decided it might be good enough to try. Besides, my husband loved it when I was competing. I think he enjoyed my wins more than I did."
- Marilyn Badger

Fear of the Dark (1993) by Mary L. HackettThe National Quilt Museum

"Since childhood, I had been intrigued by the blips of light and rolling color some of us see when closing our eyes tightly, or when relaxing, waiting for sleep. In 1992 I developed my spontaneous Log Cabin method of construction to finally bring my impressions to life. Using a variety of black fabrics, some of them cut into tiny strips, I constructed 460 blocks from which I chose 256 for this quilt. Adrift in the floating colors and patterns are a few of the 'fears' that crop up at night. On the back is a giant pieced Log Cabin block a reference to the quilt's traditional parentage."
- Mary L. Hackett

Sun-Bathing Blue Tit (2004) by Inge Mardal & Steen HougsThe National Quilt Museum

"I was watching birds in the tree outside our house with my spotting scope when I discovered the little bird in a sunny spot in the foliage. I attached my digital camera to the eyepiece and caught the image. The quilt relates to my work in general. I co-operate with my husband, Steen Hougs, and we are usually together on the search for motifs, inspiration and new avenues to explore. In nature we find shapes, lines, curves, hues, and values everywhere, be it in a tiny flower on the beach in Denmark or a grandiose seascape from the wild coasts of Brittany.

There are many aspects to quiltmaking, the predominant ones being their appeal to the beholders, the relief created by the quilting process itself, and the lack of reflections, which often are disturbing when viewing varnished oil paintings or glass-framed watercolours."
- Inge Mardal

Instruments of Praise (2009) by Kathy K. WylieThe National Quilt Museum

Using Biblical imagery and spiritual themes, Wylie's quilts are a reflection of her relationship with God and her journey of faith. This quilt drew its inspiration from the words of Psalm 150. There are multiple visual references to various musical instruments.

"Quilting is very similar to prayer. They are both quiet, meditative activities, usually performed in solitude. They require discipline and sometimes great effort, but they both reward my persistence."
- Kathy K. Wylie

Promise: April (2008) by Judith TragerThe National Quilt Museum

Trager views April in Colorado as always a promise. The quilt reflects her vision of all four seasons occurring in the month of April.

“I make quilts because they speak to me. They speak of generations of textile workers, the importance of women working together, and the beauty that putting those little pieces of fabric together can make. The medium is constantly changing and challenging. Quilts make my assumptions of how something is to work dissolve. I cannot go a week without playing with texture, discovering composition, or touching fiber. Quilts become a metaphor for my life.”
- Judith Trager

Aletsch (1990) by Michael JamesThe National Quilt Museum

Aletsch is part of a series of quilts that represent my efforts to synthesize sensory responses to a particular space: the vast mountainous basin in the Swiss Alps that encloses the Aletsch Glacier, the largest in Europe. In the summer of 1988 I spent several days hiking along its perimeter, which extends many kilometers down from the Jungfrau firn. What impressed me most was the very audible sound of millions of gallons of water rushing unseen beneath the perfectly still expanse of glacier. It seemed incongruous: the unrelenting movement of so much water and the stone rigidity of so much ice. Combined with the brilliance of the light and the clarity of the air, that incongruity made for a very memorable scenario.”
- Michael James

Credits: Story

The National Quilt Museum is pleased to offer this exhibit, as well as other quality quilt exhibits, as a loan.

Traveling exhibits for loans can be customized to the desired subject matter and size, depending on availability. Museums and galleries interested in these exhibits should call the The National Quilt Museum at 270-442-8856.

"What's In a Name?" originally exhibited at The National Quilt Museum in February and March of 2020, and was curated by Nancy Eisenmenger, Curatorial Intern.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.