PAMELA PARMAL: Color is essential to quilt making, and this exhibition really does explore that in many ways. It starts off really looking at different aspects of color theory; like color vibration, color mixtures, color gradation.
The quilts we’re going to see in the show really cover a broad time range, from the early nineteenth century, all the way to the 1940s. What makes them kind of unique and interesting is the way in which the quilt makers used color. Traditionally, most quilt makers used a high contrast, usually white with a dark color, to create their patterns, which could easily be seen. A lot of the quilts in this exhibition do just the opposite; they’ll use similar colors together, or will have no white whatsoever. In fact the majority of the quilts in the show do not have white in them.
We spent a lot of time with Gerald Roy looking at his collection, kind of learning from him during this process; it was a wonderful experience.
GERALD ROY: That first sentence that I use in my collector’s preface—I make my quilts as fast as I can so my children won’t freeze, and as beautiful as I can so my heart won’t break—I think that is the epitome of what quilt making provided for women throughout the history of the nineteenth century. Their worlds were very much labor intensive, and to be able to escape and to produce something by way of producing it for utility, for the family, for warmth, but also having that other very, very special part was extremely important.
The one thing that I find so extraordinarily rewarding, not only about finding these things and saving them, but is to actually have them exhibited on museum walls. I mean, can you imagine what these women, if they were alive today, would think about their work appearing on the walls of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston? I mean that would be mind-blowing to those ladies. And what a compliment.