"Nine Patch"

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
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c. 1955
Cotton and corduroy
93 x 77 inches
Collection of
RISD Museum
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
Description

Four-patch and nine-patch blocks are basic units for building thousands of patterns. As the names Indicate, four-patch blocks are constructed from four separate units, nine-patch from nine, as seen here in Ruth P. Mosely’s 1950s exuberant, triple-sashed “Nine Patch,” which borders on traditional Euro-American design ideas but is still quintessentially African American. This African American influence is seen in the way the blocks are arranged as well as the choice of colors. The skewing of the elements, widely supposed to have been dictated mainly by need when a maker ran out of a particular fabric, is not necessarily random. The strips‘ variable widths are just as likely to have been a conscious design decision.

This is one of ten Gee's Bend quilts to appear on a U.S. postage stamp in 2006.