accordion book with hand-cut paper and embroidery, 7 x 5 (folds out to 14 x 60), 2011
West Virginia in Quilts is the result of my childhood memories of growing up in rural Appalachia. My family has long been involved with folk arts and crafts, and I was encouraged to explore these creative outlets both at home and in school. Looking back, I realize that much emphasis was placed on West Virginia as a center for Appalachian crafts and tourism, and larger issues affecting the state, like mountaintop removal and rampant meth use, were swept under the rug. When I was in school, we weren’t taught how to be socially, financially, and environmentally loyal to our state – we were told that to be successful adults, we’d probably have to move out of state. So, with West Virginia in Quilts, I wanted to use a traditional Appalachian craft, quilting, to bring awareness to more serious issues affecting West Virginia.
I chose an accordion structure so that the book unfolds and spreads out like a quilt. The title of the book works on a couple of levels: It is a glimpse of West Virginia through beautiful quilt patterns, and it is also a state in quilts, or covered from view. Since the truth rarely remains hidden, I let the ugliness underneath peek through the quilts on the surface; when the quilt unfolds, the whole story is revealed.