By: Mary Bywater Cross
In the summer of 1981 while visiting family in Iowa City, Iowa, I received an invitation to study the quilts of Grant Wood’s family. The two quilts in Iowa City were made by Lydia Wood, Grant Wood’s maiden great aunt.
Although he may not have know the Wood family quilts existed and thus did not use them in his paintings, I conclude that Wood was probably attracted to the subject of his first painting, “Quilts,” through his interest in carefully planned and detailed items in his environment, Quilts airing on the spring day are a natural example. In “Spring in Town,” I conclude he used the quilts to illustrate woman’s role as beautifier of her home through her artistic expressions. The airing quilts of both paintings are illustrative of his favorite theme – the beautiful, peaceful life available in American small towns. Study of Grant Wood’s work led to finding that these two oil paintings clearly represented the two distinct styles of his work.