Handmade quilts on display


Traditionally, stories have been "wrapped up" in patchwork as quiltmakers through two centuries have shared their quilts, and while doing so, their feelings, memories and ideals.

A free exhibit on display at the Auditorium Gallery of BYU's Harold B. Lee Library makes this connection obvious by showing a collection of 30 handmade quilts — large and small — paired with the picture books whose stories they help to tell.

In frontier times, quiltmakers often were the ones who also trained and nurtured children. The patchwork quilts they devised aimed to tutor youngsters with lessons embraced by family and community.

The "Patchwork Imaginings" collection, by quilt artist Jodi Glissmeyer Warner of South Jordan Utah, takes these traditions one step further. The genesis for this exhibit began with a 1988 quilt contest sponsored by New York City's Museum of American Folk Art.

The contest's theme — "Memories of Childhood" — was the motivation to commemorate "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter, and her own positive youthful reading experiences. Fabric art prepared and entered in that contest by Sister Warner became the first of many pictorial quilt projects with storybook connections. Exuberant responses from her own young children as well as from others have pushed Sister Warner to create additional quilts with storybook themes.

An unexpected dividend from this focus has been the many moments of shared reading that interaction with the quilts initiates, highlighting the second purpose behind this exhibit — to encourage reading among children and the adults they love.