A Reader's Response
My grandmother was a voracious quilt maker. To create her patchworks, she would harvest all the discarded clothing in the family, cut them into little pieces, make designs from those pieces to complete the whole. As it turned out, that little brown striped shirt that I liked so much in second grade would eventually be a part of five different quilts. When you looked at one of the quilts, you would see some strips or squares from the shirt, but never the whole shirt. The shirt didn’t exist anymore, nor could it exist again. When you looked at five quilts, you would see that the pieces of the shirt existed as parts of five different quilts, but again you never saw the whole shirt. The shirt didn’t exist anymore, nor could it exist again.
But all those recognizable pieces were still there, recognizable because of the distinctive pattern of the little brown shirt that I liked so much. Eventually one quilt would be in Texas and one in Wyoming and one in California and one in New Orleans and one in Georgia, the pieces of the brown shirt all across the country. Still, if I went to any of those five houses, I would see and recognize the pieces that had once been my shirt. I might even have said, "There's my shirt," but of course I only meant, "There's a tiny piece of my shirt that recreates the whole in my mind."
Not coming from that quilting culture, I'd always kinda thought of patchwork quilts as an uncomfortable parallel -- too much of a sense of something cobbled together from bits and bobs. But the emotional and familial resonances in that image of the brown shirt, in patches in quilts scattered across the country... something about that really struck a chord and made me think, yeah, that works; that's exactly what I'm trying to do.
Which is a nice way to start the day.