This quilt began with an idea: Honor one hundred years of nursing in the community by reaching out to the community. After obtaining a grant from the Lowell Cultural Council, the VNA came to Maxine Farkas, arts organizer extraordinaire, asking for textile artists interested in making a quilt. She passed the request on to Lowell Fiber Studio.
During my family's encounters with cancer, dementia, and old age, organizations like the VNA helped my family. So I volunteered to head the project.We worked from interviews with actual patients, drawing our images from their words. The wisteria (not lilac, though I keep calling it that) -- which twines up fences in even the poorest neighborhoods, became our main symbol. Its roots suggested both history and connection. Its blossoms reminded us of growth and love. We collected images, made idea boards, and discussed composition.Because patients compared the VNA's help to both the stars at night as well as the sun rising, we set the wisteria against a progression from night through dawn to afternoon. We settled on major elements - horizon, wisteria, houses. We dyed sky and ground fabrics. Then we divided the quilt into 5 panels, with 2 artists on a panel, and went to work. It felt like walking into the void.
So here it is, 6 months later. Amazing.photo by Adrien Bisson
Sharon Sawyer and Gwen Stith took the photos of houses and mills of Lowell. Everyone unstintingly donated fabric, lace, expertise and time. Kudos to all: Cathy Granese, Ann Lee and Sonja Lee-Austin, Margot Stage, Sharon Sawyer, Gwen Stith, Laura Gawlinski, Susan Webber, and Merill Commeau. A remarkable piece.