Monday, May 17, 2021

quilts as women's art: a quilt poetics

The body of the quilt is the work of coming to like in yourself what was only adored or ignored by your mother, or other objects of your love or your lovers;

The body of the quilt is the work of coming to like the work of another woman, and the passing through of all rejection and neglect by another woman or man;

The body of the quilt is the work of coming to like yourself as a little old lady and an old little girl and a new little sister;

The body of the quilt is the work of going over all your mistakes and lost dreams liking yourself all the way all over inside and out and all around the whole border not knowing where to start and not knowing where to stop;
The body of the quilt is the work repeating all your moves and liking the fact that you did it all, did all the moving;
The body of the quilt is the endless search, your endless search, but as your companion as you go through the motions of work, as you work your way: by focusing, waiting, turning, twisting, aligning, matching, fitting, pulling in the faraway, visiting with the absent, drawing out the ineffable, amplifying the vestigial, leaving well-enough alone, enduring the unendurable, practicing readiness for the other, learning the lesson late and liking yourself for forgetting it again, and you’re finally looking up and seeing the body of your quilt behind your cat, behind your potted plants, up to your neck, coming out of your ears, and before the body of your quilt you see the people you want to see the body of your quilt and they like it, more than anyone every liked your body, and said so, and you know now it does not matter whether you did because you’ve come to like yourself even more than the body of the quilt, and you can look at it and like it by yourself.

Radka Donnell
The Quilt's Body by Radka Donnell is on page 113 of Quilts As Women's Art:  A Quilt Poetics.  

I read this book at age 40.  It gave me the foundation of my career as an artist/quiltmaker.  I copied many things into my journal at the time, including this entire poem.  

New Beginning, the other side.  I speak about making it in the lecture my pandemic summer.

"Quilts are to mainstream art what poetry is to prose".  Radka Donnell


YoniCreatrix said...

This is such a beautiful metaphor and it resonates deeply with me. Thank you for bringing this extraordinary woman to my attention.

June C said...

This answers so many questions for me. And raised even more! Thank you.

Camilla G. said...

I spent some time with you virtually yesterday - listened and watched and read. Always so valuable and moving.