This is a rescued quilt. I dug it from the bottom of a mountain of textiles in a consignment antique store in Marshalltown, Iowa, in the United States. I grew up in Marshalltown, and when I visit my parents, I frequent this particular store, which I cannot seem to leave empty handed. I am a textile artist, and I always visit this section, where I see the forgotten and devalued work of women’s hands, in stacks practically to the ceiling. This is the section of the store holding by far the most hours of collected and accumulated work: planning, stitching, sewing. This is the section packed with the most creativity. This is the section where I can always find something like what I wore, like a blanket I had, like a tablecloth my mother made.
I have actually seen items, artifacts from my childhood, in this Marshalltown antique store. My parents are trying to help my sisters and I. They are letting go of the things, the overwhelming number of things, that we will face when they are gone. They bring them to this store under consignment, where perhaps a buyer will have a parallel memory and want to relive it. It’s very unsettling to find bits of your childhood with price tags on them in a store in a town you left decades ago.
I reflect on my own work. Will individual pieces become orphans, their owners and their heirs unsure what to do with them? Will someone use a quilt I made to wrap a refrigerator in back of a pickup truck? Will the corner drag on the pavement until it disintegrates? Will the babies I have made crib blankets for save them for their children? Will the art pieces I have shown in galleries find their way to the giant textile pile waiting for consignment? Will my children have no idea what to do with the fruits of my studio? After all, there has to be something for the estate sale, right? And so, I rescued this quilt for something greater. I have no idea who made it. I have no idea for whom it was made. But I value the maker and the work.