In these quilts and textiles, Latter-day Saint artists have expressed their testimonies using needle and thread.
Lyn Daugherty of Sandy, Oregon, read the story in Genesis 37:3: “Israel loved Joseph … and he made him a coat of many colours.” [Gen. 37:3] Recognizing that this coat symbolized a special bond between father and son, Sister Daugherty created a coat, right, for her mother, which represented the special bond between them as a modern-day parent and child.
Like Sister Daugherty, many artists use fabric, needle, and thread to create utilitarian artwork. These artists are usually homemakers who create clothing for their families and use fabric to decorate their homes. Embellishing utilitarian creations, they create art. Although textile arts have been traditionally created by women, men, too, are now exploring these media.
Textile artists, like other folk artists, often use images found in existing artwork. Folk artists consider this a compliment to the original artist. Latter-day Saint folk artists also often use familiar images: Christ, temple, family, missionaries, and stories from the scriptures. Though the creative viewpoint of each artist is different, the familiar images allow the artist to say through his or her work, “I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, too.”
Each time an artist recreates a familiar image, using another medium in combination with elements of his or her culture, a new image evolves. The Philippine embroidery titled Families Are Forever (page 39) is an example of this. Here we see the familiar image of the Salt Lake Temple, but the artist’s culture is reflected in the palm tree and bright colors.
As the Church continues to spread throughout the world, Latter-day Saint art will reflect artists’ testimonies of the gospel with an increasing diversity of cultural expression.
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Abraham, Father of the Faithful, appliqué, 1990, by Ruth Dubrez of Englewood, Colorado.
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Nauvoo Temple, needlepoint, 1986, by Helga Steffel of Ostfriesland, Germany. “Let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people” (D&C 124:40). This needlepoint is a version of a painting by Steven T. Baird, The Nauvoo Temple, Rendering No. 1. Sister Steffel stitched this artwork with both wool and synthetic thread. The tight, even stitches of needlepoint capture the angular details of the building design.
After the Flood, knitted sweater, 1990, by Marceline Bravo of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Families Are Forever, embroidery, 1990, by Lourdes D. Samson of Bataan, Philippines.
“He spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow” (Matt. 13:3).
Needlepoint is a type of embroidery done on canvas using simple, even stitches across counted threads. The process is time-consuming, and the result is a tightly woven design or picture with great durability.
“Israel loved Joseph … and he made him a coat of many colours” (Gen. 37:3).
Sister Daugherty made this quilted coat for her mother’s seventieth birthday. First, she gathered a variety of fabrics and cut them into small pieces, then sewed them together, following a patchwork design. From this patchwork material, Sister Daugherty cut out the sections of the coat—the front, back, sleeves, and so forth. Then she quilted each section of the coat before sewing sections together into the finished article of clothing. This process of piecing material together in a patchwork design has its roots in early U.S. history. Pioneers made the most of their resources by cutting the usable fabric from worn-out clothing and sewing the scraps together to make material that could be quilted into blankets or clothing. Intricate patchwork designs eventually developed.
“I cried unto the Lord with my voice and he heard me” (Ps. 3:4).
This design represents the preservation of the pioneers’ crops from swarms of crickets by the miraculous appearance of sea gulls, which gorged themselves on the insects.
“I will bless them through thy [Abraham’s] name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father” (Abr. 2:10).
Appliqué is the process of sewing various-sized pieces of fabric onto a larger piece of fabric. Sister Dubrez has captured the feeling of Abraham’s nomadic life-style through her use of fabrics with a wide variety of textures, colors, and patterns.
“And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, … and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged.
“And God said, … I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 8:1, 12–13).
“The Prophet Elijah was to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to their fathers,
“Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming” (D&C 138:47–48).
Sister Samson’s work reflects her joyous feelings about the sealing power of the priesthood, a power available in the temple, and about the aspect of being together with one’s family forever.
Marjorie Draper Conder is a curator at the Museum of Church History and Art.