Saturday, April 29, 2017

Beyond Modern: Woodland Chromatics, 1984, by Libby Lehman

Woodland Chromatics, cottons, Libby Lehman, Houston, TX, 1984, 63" x 63"
Libby Lehman's quilt, Woodland Chromatics, arrived yesterday afternoon. It was quite an experience opening the box.

The first thing I saw was a letter with her signature. It took my breath away. Libby showed incredible determination to write her name after suffering a brain aneurysm and stroke a few years ago.

I was already familiar with her pre-stroke signature. It appears in three places on the quilt. Two inscriptions on the front with the same information, name and date, except one is inked and the other stitched. It looks like she would ink her name and stitch over it, and I wonder if she decided to stitch her name in a different place after inking it the first time.

The stitched label on the back has more information, title, dimensions, date including months and year it was made, and Libby's signature.

It's interesting to crop sections and look at the block design. The blocks include very few pieces, and the design is simple, but it's an incredibly sophisticated quilt.

The rich colors are carefully selected, and the quilting is modern. It's hard to believe this quilt was made 33 years ago. It could've been made yesterday.

When modern quilting came along a few years ago, there were declarations about how it was a departure from the past. It was kind of a head scratcher for experienced quiltmakers who were familiar with the work of Libby Lehman and other artists in her generation. They made modern quilts and were pioneers of modern quilting.

Woodland Chromatics is a modern quilt made in 1984. It reveals modernism in a less familiar manner, and avoids referencing a specific period's design style such as mid-century modern. In that regard, the quilt is beyond modern. It is futuristic.


  1. Beautiful quilt. Being in Paducah last week I thought of Libby often. I pray for her daily. She was and always will be a very special quilter, wife, mother, sister and friend of soooo many.

  2. I knew Libby in the 1980's & 90's...before her stroke, etc. She is a wonderful teacher, as well as an incredible woman. I'm so happy to see how far she has progressed in the last few years. You are so fortunate to own onbe of her masterpieces. Enjoy!

  3. Thank you so much for your kind and insightful observations about Libby's quilt. She did indeed painstakingly sign a Thank you letter to each purchaser, and each quilt was packed lovingly by her family for shipment to its new home.
    Our sister Cathy called Libby and read your comments to her. Libby was flattered and so happy you like her quilt!
    In humble appreciation, Libby's sister Ellen