From the moment Revolutionary War patriot Betsy Ross first threaded a running stitch to create Old Glory, many Americans have made a tradition of expressing nationalism through handiwork in times of both joy and loss. That's why, in the wake of 9/11, the American Quilter's Society called upon its members to do what they do best: sew.
The group invited artisans to fuse their hearts, dreams and prayers onto their piecing squares and cutting boards. The result? Forty-nine quilts gathered for the national traveling exhibit called United We Quilt: 9/11 Healing Quilts. The show opens Monday, July 5, in Golden, at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and Primedia, which will each display half of the exhibit. "Fabric and thread beckon us back to our grandmothers and offer such a sense of history," says the museum's Heidi Row. "It has always been such a beautiful medium to express our thoughts and feelings."
Cut and sewn interpretations of the Twin Towers, the Statue of Liberty and American eagles have been carefully seamed together with red, white and blue swatches of color; each homemade homage is gilded with poetic titles such as "To Defend Forever the Flames of Freedom," "Recycled Hearts" and "Dawn of a New Day."
"This show is about the authors' responses to what happened on that fateful day," Row says of the needled memorials. "It raised the hair on the back of my neck when I saw it."
According to a Quilter's Society statement, the point of the exhibit is that "quilting can bring great comfort -- not only to those who make the quilts, but also to those who view them." Row hopes that people will continue to remember the fallen and their survivors while walking through the show, and that they will find strength in its stitched images. "This group of artists has created quilts to express a spirit of hope and healing," she says. "They have brought it to us so we can have a chance to work through our feelings as well."