Blocks and strips work-clothes quilt

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Denim and cotton twill
87 x 66 inches
Collection of
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

In creating work-clothes pieces, a quiltmaker will often combine cloth strips with blocks of fabric, which is what Emma Lee Pettway Campbell did in one of her finest patchworks from the 1950s. Within this quilt, long thin strips of light and dark blue cloth alternate in a seemingly random pattern across the bottom three quarters of the composition, while at the top of the design there appear two large rectangles of similarly contrasting values. A study in principles of contrast and counterpoint, Campbell’s bedcover divides itself in a confounding way between light and dark, bars against blocks, and line versus shape. Once again, a music metaphor comes to mind, as the quilt’s loud piano-key stripes suddenly appear from squared-off fields of visual silence.