Thirty artists from Northern California met the Project’s 2014 Challenge, creating captivating quilts and stories inspired by civilian experiences across the U.S. during the Home Front period of 1941 – 1945. The exhibit debuts on March 22 & 23 as a special exhibit in Voices in Cloth 2014: Extraordinary Quilts by the Bay, the biennial quilt show presented by East Bay Heritage Quilters.
Challenge jurors Inez Brooks-Myers, Michele Seville, and Marie Strait looked for original design, personal expression, overall excellence, and compelling stories. The result is a strong group of quilts depicting a diversity of home-front themes. We are delighted to offer this tantalizing preview of the Challenge exhibit: four quilts chosen for special merit by the jurors and the jury’s history consultant.
The fitting location for the exhibit’s debut is the spectacular Craneway Pavilion in the Marina District of Richmond, California. During WWII, this historic building produced tanks and jeeps, and it is now part of the new Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. Following Voices in Cloth 2014, the Challenge quilts will appear in an online gallery on this website through March 2015. Plans are being finalized for an extended exhibition of the quilts at the Richmond Museum of History in April and May 2014, and additional venues are pending. We think you will be engaged by the 2014 Challenge quilts and will want to know more about this influential period that continues to impact life in America today.
A Salute to the Richmond Shipyard Workers: Leon Chooey
by Jeanie Low23” x 17”
Selected by Marie Strait, Juror
President, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
The variety of surface design techniques in this well executed quilt really caught my eye. The silhouettes, made from photos of Ms. Low’s parents, are subtly personal, while giving the feeling of so many people working on building the ships as well as those who were on board the ships during the war. And the steel pennies and ration tokens stitched on give a finishing touch for my eye.
Remembering the Richmond Rosies
by Susan Zimmerman18” x 22”
Selected by Michele Seville, Juror
Arts & Culture Manager, City of Richmond
Bandanas were a safety necessity among women shipyard workers during WWII. While there was great diversity in the workforce at that time, I love the fact that the only reference to it in this quilt is through the bandanas. The women are without faces. Only their hair hints at their differences. This is a wonderful, beautifully executed design — the warship in the background, the camaraderie of the Rosies, and the bandanas! It conveys a lot of information with subtlety and efficiency.
Farewell by Barbara Davis 22” x 18”
Selected by Inez Brooks-Myers, Juror
Textiles Curator, Exhibition Consultant
Barbara Davis’ moving quilt, Farewell, spoke to me immediately. The format that Davis gives us is a literal window into 1942 California. The silhouetted figure in the foreground takes one last, long look at his beloved fields—the orderly fields he tended for years, making them thrive and produce food to feed America. This painterly quilt makes us feel the deep sorrow of leaving home for detention/concentration camps for “the duration”…the reality of Japanese and Japanese Americans living on the West Coast of the United States during World War II. The carefully selected darkness of the pallet fills us with foreboding. Now, because of the accident of his ancestry, this man must leave these precious fields, his home. The fields themselves give us the perspective of stretching all the way across California’s broad, fertile, Central Valley to the protective mountains in the east. The use of a silhouette allows this figure to transcend the depiction of just one person; he represents all of the Japanese and Japanese Americans who were displaced during the war. The strength of Davis’ symbolism makes us feel that should this figure in the foreground turn around, we’d see the heavy, manila paper tag tied to his overcoat, bearing a woeful number…his “ticket” to Topaz, Manzanar, or Heart Mountain.
News From Home by Cindi Cossen 16” x 24”
Selected by Sandi Genser-Maack, History Consultant
Board Member, Richmond Museum of History
As a Richmond resident and Historian, I particularly love the wonderful representation of the Ford Plant. But even better is the little-known story of the workers at the Ford Plant and the community getting together to send gifts to “our boys.” Cindi writes, “In a special project aimed at bolstering the morale of the troops…magazines from the community…[were collected and] placed in each completed Jeep or tank before it was shipped.”