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Carly Davis: Family Portrait Quilt

Carly Davis, Family Portrait Quilt

Family Portrait Quilt
Carly Davis
3 x 5 feet (estimated)

Senior Carly Davis is an English, creative writing and art major and Spanish minor from Milton, Wis.

Artist statement

Heirlooms make their way into our lives through a process of continued love and sentiment, assigning meaning to ordinary items. Family quilts, for example, are often made by an older generation and passed down through families and accumulate sentimental value. Items made to last have the potential to become important to people—for years, a prized belonging of mine was a pair of socks knit by a great-grandmother I never knew. Similarly, the quilts my grandmother made each of her grandkids will stay in our family and be passed down to our own children, creating a legacy of love and handicraft. 

I took the idea of a family quilt and ran with it. I consider these traceable heirlooms as an evolution of painted family portraits, which use art to demonstrate the wealth and importance of a family. While a commissioned oil painting may be expensive, intensely formal, and reminiscent of a bygone era, a handmade quilt belongs to a more common class of people and feels more representative of my own family. 

Carly Davis

Integrating the two ideas—quilts and painted portraits—brings attention to how meaning can be measured in both sentimental and monetary value. In art, those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. Additionally, the fine details involved in each medium relate to the importance one’s family may have in their life, deserving hours of beadwork and hours upon hours of painting and sewing to properly reflect the weight of one’s family on their shoulders.