by Mary Jo
I've always liked quilts. Throughout my childhood, I slept under a blue and white quilt a neighbor gave to my mother because the neighbor didn't want it anymore. A lot of quilts were passed around as old fashioned and uninteresting in those days, I think.
But these days quilts are very popular, partly because they represent authenticity and a link with the past. Not to mention that they're beautiful usable art that can be lived with and appreciated every day.
(Like most Americans I have a rather romanticized image of pioneer women gathering together for a quilting bee, both to make quilts and to share female companionship. The reality is inevitably more complex.)
I have several friends who quilt. One who is a writer, Annette Mahon, has created the St. Rose cozy quilting mystery series. I've had friends create quilts for new babies, or to offer comfort to someone going through a difficult time.
There was also the AIDS Memorial Quilt with squares commemorating those who had died of the disease. The largest folk art project in the world, it weighed 54 tons in 2010. (The history of the quilt is quite interesting.)