"Broken Star" variation

  • Click on image to enlarge

    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
c. 1925
Cotton, wool, silk
91 x 85 inches
Collection of
Currier Museum of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

"Star" patterns' inherent boldness meshes well with the creative temperaments of many Gee's Bend quiltmakers. Magdalene Wilson's black-and-white "Broken Star" could not be more clearly defined in its figure-ground relationships. Her materials are humble: the white ground is feed or flour sacks. Gee's Bend quilts from this era often deploy a limited color palette— usually black, blue, or red—popping from the white of the cotton sacks. The haunting power of Wilson's "Broken Star," against the grain of the generally gaily colored "Stars" that prevail throughout the American quilt tradition, lies in its restraint. In emptying the quilt of color, Wilson maximized the graphic punch of the inset diamonds.