This outstanding 1930s pictorial quilt from Ohio is very special for a lot of reasons. It comes to me from longtime friend and mentor Shelly Zegart, and it was part of her personal collection of pictorial quilts- a very strongly focused collection. The bulk of the quilts are now part of the permanent collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, but this quilt had remained with Shelly.
It's an iconic, early example of the pictorial quilt- made in a manner seen more often in the last 40 or 50 years than in the earlier 20th century. There's a log cabin, a flagpole with a printed 48-star American flag, a garden path lined with flowers, the sun, a rainbow, trees and mountains, and even a picket fence. In many ways it represents the American dream, the homestead, and order.
Although the folky manner might suggest an untrained artist, the handwork is very fine and the maker was clearly skilled in sewing. The combination of elements such as hexagon flowers, diamond-pieced trees and pieced star cornerstones suggests a connection with quilt tradition, but the way these elements were combined was clearly a departure.
This quilt was part of Shelly's 2008 exhibition and catalogue "Shelly Zegart: Passionate About Quilts" at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. It was also displayed as part of her Antique House Quilts exhibition at the 2005 Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival. I'm both honored and grateful that Shelly would want me to have this very special quilt. Thank you, Shelly!