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quilts and textiles


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A Native Aesthetic
Native quilters, just like quilters from other cultural backgrounds, get their ideas for designs from many different sources. Some Native quilters used the design motifs of their specific tribe or clan. Sometimes choices of patterns and colors reflect the Native quilter's close spiritual ties to the natural world.

For the quilting patterns used to stitch together the three layers--top, batting or filling, and backing--of cloth, some Native quilters incorporate stars, tipis, thunderbirds, pipes, war bonnets, medicine wheels, cradleboards, arrowheads, eagles, and symbols of rain, clouds, sun, and mountains.
Photo of detail of Grand Entry Lone Star quilt
Detail from Shirley Grady's Grand Entry Lone Star Quilt includes an elaborate rendition of a pow wow "grand entry".
Photo by Elbinger Studios, Inc.

Photo of detail of Donald's Trudeau's quilt
Medicine wheel from Donald Trudeau's baby quilt.
Photo by Elbinger Studios, Inc.

Photo of teepee from Thunderbird Star quilt
Tepee from Rita Corbiere's Thunderbird Star Quilt.
Photo by Elbinger Studios, Inc.

Photo of Bandolier Bag Variation quilt Bandolier Bag Variation
J. Carole (Jimmie) Stewart (Muscogee/Creek)
Washington, Oklahoma
88 14" x 82 1/2"
Collection of MSUM, acc# 1996:106
Photo by Elbinger Studios, Inc.

Carole Stewart drew on both Creek and Delaware designs in this interpretation of a bandolier bag. This large quilt features strong deep colors to create a dramatic, visual effect.

Photo of Daybreak or Dawn quilt Daybreak/Dawn Quilt
Charlie and Julia Grinnell (Hidatsa)
Parshall, North Dakota
81" x 89"
Collection of MSUM, acc# 7787.1
Photo by Elbinger Studios, Inc.

Charlie Grinnell designs and pieces tops that mimic the pattern he uses in his beadwork. Julia Grinnell then quits the tops. Their work was included in the 1988 landmark exhibit Native Needlework: Contemporary Indian Textiles from North Dakota.

Photo of Horse Chief's Blanket quilt Horse Chief's Blanket Quilt
Conrad House (Navajo/Oneida)
St. Michaels, Arizona
71" x 56"
Collection of MSUM, acc# 1996:72.1
Photo: Elbinger Studios, Inc.

Conrad Houses' Horse Chief's Blanket Quilt situates an appliqued horse in the center of a pieced Navajo rug design. Though House did not quilt his textile pieces, his work was influenced by the colors used by Amish quilters and his childhood memories of the patchwork quilts made by his family. An accomplished artist in other media, House's work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and is included in many museum collections.

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