Lucy T. Pettway (1921–2004), Blazing Star (quiltmaker's name) with "Pinwheel" corner blocks (detail), 1968
Polyester, double knit, nylon knit, 72 x 68 in.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
"Star" quilts were never for every quiltmaker in Gee's Bend. The "Star" may enjoy the widest popularity of any quilt pattern in America, but the interconnected diamonds of the star motif make the quilt vulnerable to puckering and pulling unless pieced by a good seamstress. "Stars" also require lots of thread and good scissors, both of which were luxuries during earlier periods of hardship in the Bend. Quiltmakers who did make "Stars" made many. Once the techniques had been mastered, the choices became almost infinite. In her Blazing Star, Lucy uses a recycled grab bag of fabrics inside the star itself, but confidently surrounds it with a purple-and-green color combination and thrusting "Pinwheel" corners.
Raised and trained by several of Gee’s Bend’s most serious quiltmakers, Lucy T. Pettway (1921-2004), known as “Lunky,” made quilts for seven decades. Whereas many quilters would develop an approach to quilting early on that remained consistent throughout their lives, Pettway rarely repeated herself. She was curious as an artist and conspicuously sought to explore almost every pattern known to her and to personalize it with her precise interpretation.
As she walked to and from the fields each workday, she carried a pencil and paper in her pocket to sketch ideas and observations. Sometimes a quilt drying on a line or a fence offered suggestions: a variation of the observed quilt, perhaps, or a variation of a detail, or a combination of colors. Something she noticed along the road or from the field might do the same. She sometimes took cloth scraps to the fields so that as ideas came to her while she worked, she could immediately create a quilt block during her rest break.
Pettway’s daughter, Mary Margaret Pettway, serves as board chair of Souls Grown Deep Foundation and Community Partnership.
Lucy T. Pettway’s work is in numerous permanent collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the High Museum of Art, The Phillips Collection, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Learn more about Lucy T. Pettway here.
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SelectionMany of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery.