Blocks and strips work-clothes quilt

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
c. 1935
Cotton, denim, wool
87 x 68 inches
Collection of
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

In a purely aesthetic sense, the more simplified constructions of the work-clothes quilts provided a blank canvas for experiments with a range of improvisational strategies, including sudden shifts in patterning, broken borders, irregular shapes, asymmetry, syncopation, and dissonant juxtapositions of prints and colors. Underlying the works of many Gee’s Bend quiltmakers is a willingness to challenge the ordinary, and this tradition of aesthetic daring has created some astounding visual results. One example is this quilt by Lucy Mooney, a patchwork of simple blocks spliced together in a way that turns their plain geometry into a compelling visual puzzle. —Joanne Cubbs