Lola Pettway (b. 1941), "Housetop" variation (detail), 1970s
Corduroy, 89 x 74 in.; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
Allie Pettway worked at the Freedom Quilting Bee and probably supplied the fabric for one of her daughter Lola Pettway’s “Housetop” quilts. A “Housetop” variation at its most evocative, the quilt is formed of avocado green, tomato red, gold, beige, and brown corduroy organized into concentric boxes in nine staggered blocks that differ in size and scale, creating movements that vibrate like notes in a dance tune. Pared-down yet energetic, the quilt is anchored in the center by the strong red medallion in a composition that overflows with confidence.
As a young girl, Lola Pettway (1941-2022), daughter of Allie and John the Baptist Pettway, was influenced by her mother’s quilting circle, which included Lucy Mingo and Candis Pettway. Her mother worked at the Freedom Quilting Bee in nearby Alberta and supplied her with remnant Sears corduroy that she used to create some of her best-known quilts.
Another influence was her neighbor, Lucy T. Pettway. When Lucy T. aired her quilts (known for their technical virtuosity), Lola seized the opportunity to look at her work.
She would hang them all the way around her house. And every day I would get up, and she was hanging a different set out. I would go there and look at those quilts. Walk all the way around her fence. I would just look at her beautiful quilts and got so much joy looking at them.
Over time, a system of mutual inspiration developed through these public displays of quilts. The critical spaces constructed around quilts on the wire became de facto versions of a local gallery or museum.
Lola Pettway’s work is in the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Learn more about Lola Pettway here.
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