In the first installment of her biweekly column, Emilie Friedlander weighs in on the recent racism allegations against Sky Ferreira, Avril Lavigne, and other pop stars.
Source: SoundCloud / Caribou.
American Quilts and Coverlets
It’s not a big jump from appreciating menswear to appreciating textiles, and the greatest of all American textile arts has to be traditional quilts and coverlets. These are partly about function, partly about art, and partly about the stories and communities they represent.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a particularly good slideshow with some beautiful examples of this craft. An excerpt from the accompanying article:
Bed quilts and coverlets, appliquéd, pieced, embroidered, or woven, are some of the few handmade objects that were created by American women to express their artistry and skill. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, women of all social strata made quilts and coverlets. Although many of these were meant to be primarily utilitarian, they were often designed to be pleasing to the eye as well, and sometimes they were imbued with significance far beyond being simple covers for a bed. During the heyday of quiltmaking in the nineteenth century, America’s increasingly mobile population was moving westward, settling in the wilderness. Easily portable, and certainly necessary, bedcovers might be some of the few decorative objects a woman had in her home. Bedcovers were often wedding gifts, or made by a young woman to take with her to her future husband’s house. If that new home was distant from friends and family, a bedcover became an important keepsake from her old life. Quilts were also made to celebrate the birth of a child, as gifts to thank important members of the community such as the local minister, and even sometimes in the remembrance of the dead.
Another popular type of bedcovering during the second quarter of the nineteenth century was the woven wool and cotton coverlet. While the earliest of these coverlets could have been woven in the home, professionally woven coverlets were more common by the end of the 1820s. They were made by mostly male weavers who set up shop in rural communities throughout the East Coast and Midwestern states. These independent weavers made coverlets, table coverings, and carpets for the local market. Many were immigrants from the British Isles or Germany, both places with large weaving industries firmly in place by the nineteenth century.
You can read the rest of the article here at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website, and check out some more beautiful quilts at the National Museum of American History. The second site is especially nice in that it allows you to zoom in on the pictures, so that you can appreciate the creative use of texture in each of these pieces.
with lines from Amiri Baraka & James Baldwin
I have left Earth in search of darker planets, a solar system that revolves too near a black hole. I have left a patch of dirt in my place & many of you won’t know the difference; we are indeed the same color, one of us would eventually become the other. You may give it my name if it makes you feel better while running your hands through its soiled scalp. I have left Earth in search of a new God. I do not trust the God you have given us. My grandmother’s hallelujah is only outdone by the fear she nurses every time the blood-fat summer swallows another child who used to sing in the choir. Take your God back, though his songs are beautiful, his miracles are inconsistent. I want the fate of Lazarus for Renisha, I want Chucky, Bo, Meech, Trayvon, Sean & Jonylah risen three days after their entombing, their ghost re-gifted flesh & blood, their flesh & blood re-gifted their children. I have left Earth, I am equal parts sick of your ‘go back to Africa’ as I am your ‘I just don’t see color’ (neither did the poplar tree). We did not build your boats (though we did leave a trail of kin to guide us home). We did not build your prisons (though we did & we fill them too). We did not ask to be part of your America (though are we not America? Her joints brittle & dragging a ripped gown through Oakland?). I can’t stand your ground. I am sick of calling your recklessness the law. Each night, I count my brothers. & in the morning, when some do not survive to be counted, I count the holes they leave. I reach for black folks & touch only air. Your master magic trick, America. Now he’s breathing, now he don’t. Abra-cadaver. White bread voodoo. This systemic sorcery you claim not to practice, but have no problem benefitting from. I tried, white people. I tried to love you, but you spent my brother’s funeral making plans for brunch, talking too loud next to his bones. You interrupted my black veiled mourning with some mess about an article you read on Buzzfeed. You took one look at the river, plump with the body of boy after boy after boy & asked ‘why does it always have to be about race?’ Because you made it so! Because you put an asterisk on my sister’s gorgeous face! Because you call her pretty (for a black girl)! Because black girls go missing without so much as a whisper of where?! Because there is no Amber Alert for the Amber Skinned Girls! Because our heroes always end up shot or shootin-up! Because we didn’t invent the bullet! Because crack was not our recipe! Because Jordan boomed. Because Emmitt whistled. Because Huey P. spoke. Because Martin preached. Because black boys can always be too loud to live. Because this land is scared of the Black mind. Because they have sold the Black body & appropriated Soul. Because it’s taken my father’s time, my mother’s time, my uncle’s time, my brother’s & my sister’s time, my niece’s & my nephew’s time … how much time do you want for your progress? I have left Earth to find a land where my kin can be safe. I will not rest until black people ain’t but people the same color as the good, wet earth, until that means something, until our existence isn’t up for debate, until it is honored & blessed & loved & left alone, until then I bid you well, I bid you war, I bid you our lives to gamble with no more. I have left Earth & I am touching everything you beg your telescopes to show you. I am giving the stars their right names. & this life, this new story & history you cannot own or ruin
This, if only this one, is ours.