Irene Williams (1920–2015), "Housetop" variation (detail), c. 1975
Cotton, 89 x 78 in.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
Irene Williams made several quilts that contain fabric printed with the word "vote." Wilcox County had been the scene of fierce voting rights struggles in the 1960s.
Although she was the daughter-in-law of quiltmaker Patty Ann Williams, Irene Williams (1920-2015) preferred to quilt in solitude throughout her adult life, creating a dynamic body of work almost completely uninfluenced by her peers. Many of her quilts are pieced from very large blocks and strips, while others are composed of tiny pieces, often stitched together in the "Log Cabin" pattern. In some designs, with daring Rehoboth style, she creates jarring juxtapositions of extremely large and small elements.
As with many quilters in the Gee’s Bend area, she frequently worked with whatever material was at hand, including old basketball jerseys. In the mid-1970s, in the aftermath of the voting rights crusade in Wilcox County, she made a remarkable “Log Cabin” variation out of a cotton fabric printed with the word "vote."
Irene Williams’s work is in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the High Museum of Art.
Learn more about Irene Williams here.
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