By: Colleen Hall-Patton
How has the traditional art of quilting changed in a modern urban setting to meet the changing needs of its practitioners? This paper uses a comparative anthropological approach to view quilting within the context of other ethnic and folk arts worldwide which have been “modernizing”.
Field research for this master’s thesis extraction was conducted among two Southern California quilt groups from January to August 1985 using participant observation, interviews and a questionnaire. One group is composed of six women, ages 75 to 94. The other is a guild of over one hundred members whose ages range from the 20’s to the 70’s.
Changes have occurred not only in technology, but also in social organization, communication, professionalism and personal reasons for quilting. Changes in quilting are shown to parallel similar changes in other ethnic arts such as Southwestern Indian pottery, Navajo weaving and Maori carving. This paper also reviews how innovation affects and may help to perpetuate this quilting revival.