100 Years, 100 Quilts—Celebrating Arizona’s Centennial with Quilts
Summer Pepper Pickin’ (55” X 73”) by Alex Gray. Alex Gray is a 12-year-old boy who was taught quiltmaking by his grandmother. He then, in turn, taught his mother. When he's not quilting, he races go-carts. Photo by Daniel Buckley.
Tucson, Heart of Arizona (47” x 70”) by Karen G. Fisher. Photo by Daniel Buckley
Abundance - Sabino Canyon (47” x 48”) by Sandy Lambert. Photo by Daniel Buckley.
Cartoon artists commonly use a light bulb to depict the moment when a brilliant idea occurs to a character. Quilt historian Lenna DeMarco of Sun City, Arizona, says that several people independently (and pretty much simultaneously) had light bulbs turn on over their heads in 2009 when they all realized that quilts and quilting needed to be part of the Arizona centennial celebration that would happen in 2012.
The eventual result of all that cerebral wattage was the formation of the Arizona Centennial Quilt Project (ACQP). This impressively ambitious and highly successful three-year effort produced a multi-faceted legacy of quilts to make Arizonans justifiably proud and leave non-Arizonans awash in admiration.
Members of the Arizona Quilt Study Group and other quilters formed the basis of the ACQP and they partnered with the nonprofit Arizona Quilter’s Hall of Fame in order to raise funds and apply for grants to support their activities. The four-pronged project included the design and construction of an Arizona Centennial Quilt (see my last column.); a yearlong quilt exhibit at the Arizona History Museum; a Centennial Fabric line; and a statewide small-quilt challenge using the Centennial fabric.
While the Arizona Centennial Quilt is “the top jewel in the crown,” according to DeMarco, the keystone of the project is the exhibit known as "100 Years, 100 Quilts" featuring the same number of quilts as years of statehood. The purpose of the exhibit was to “allow everyone—not just master quilters—to express what they feel about Arizona and its history.”
DeMarco and her fellow ACQP executive board member and exhibit co-chair, Anne Hodgkins, came up with a set of guidelines for inclusion in “100 Years, 100 Quilts.” Each quilt had to be original (not made from a kit or a Block-of-the-Month); it had to be a certain size to accommodate hanging; it had to be made by a resident of Arizona; and it had to be accompanied by a story about the quilter’s relation to Arizona. Other than those few rules, the exhibit was open to everyone, regardless of age or skill level. The exhibit was not juried—the first 100 quilts that met all the criteria were the 100 that made it into the show.
The results were nothing short of remarkable. From a quilt made by a 12-year-old boy to those made by professional quilters and every skill level in between; from traditional patterns to art quilts; from impressionistic designs to pictorial representations of Arizona icons and landmarks—the collected works provide a wonderfully expressive view of the state from many perspectives.
Made possible in part through a grant by the Arizona Humanities Council, the exhibition was designated as an Arizona Legacy Project. The Arizona History Museum in Tucson agreed to display all 100 quilts in a yearlong residency during the centennial year. A grand opening of the exhibit was held at the museum earlier this year (a video of the opening can be found here. An accompanying book was written by well-known authors and quilt scholars, Helen Young Frost and Carolyn O’Bagy Davis, and is available for sale.
When the exhibit ends on December 31, 2012, the quilts will be divided into groups and moved for display at other Arizona Historical Society museums throughout the state. Dubbed “100 Years, 100 Quilts, 100 Days” exhibits, each group will be on display for 100 days before being returned to their owners. The goal is to exhibit quilts made by quilters from a certain region of the state at a museum in that region.
Everyone involved in making the exhibit a reality—organizers, supporters, artists, and museum personnel—have much to celebrate, as it truly is an unmatched statewide commemoration. Lenna DeMarco sums it up this way: “I’m not a native Arizonan, but after spending the past several years of my life on this exhibit and getting to know so many wonderful people, I could not be more proud of being a citizen of this state!”
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Column 78: Ollie Steele Burden’s Quilt Blocks
Column 77: Quilting with AMD
Column 76: Maverick Quilts and Cowgirls
Column 75: The Modern Quilt Guild—Cyberculture Quilting Ramps Up
Column 74: The Membership Quilt—Czech Quilting in Texas
Column 73: Maximum Security Quilts
Column 72: Author: Terri Thayer
Column 71: The Christmas Quilt
Column 70: New Mexico Centennial Quilt
Column 69: Scrub Quilts
Column 68: “Think Pink” Quilt Raises Funds for Rare Cancer Research
Column 67: Righting Old Wrongs.
Column 66: 100 Years, 100 Quilts - More on the Arizona Centennial.
Column 65: Arizona Centennial Quilt Project
Column 64: Capt. John Files Tom’s Family Tree
Column 63: The Fat Quarters
Column 62: Quilt Fiction Author: Clare O’Donohue
Column 61: Louisiana Bicentennial Quilt
Column 60: The Camo Quilt Project.
Column 59: Thread Wit
Column 58: Ralli Quilts
Column 57: Preschool Quilters
Column 56: The Story Quilt
Column 55: Red and Green Quilts
Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
Column 49: More Than a Quilt Shop
Column 48: Las Colchas of the Texas-Mexico Border
Column 47: Literary Gifts
Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
Column 44: Hen and Chicks
Column 43: A Star Studied Event
Column 42: Shoo
Column 41: Awareness Quilts
Column 40: Tivaevae
Column 39: UnOILed UnspOILed Coast Quilt Project
Column 38: Katrina Recovery Quilts
Column 37: Quilted Vermont
Column 36: The Labyrinth Quilt—A Meditative Endeavor
See other archived columns here