Anonymous Was a Woman

plate quilt s

” I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”
–Virginia Woolf

This is often misquoted as “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”

hours
filling
days like wheels
turning into
plates  laundry  tasks
to gather and sort and
stitch into layers  comfort
warmth symmetry  anonymous
generations completing circles

crazy quilt painting s

Collage, to me, takes its inspiration from the fiber work of generations of anonymous women.  The women in my family knitted, crocheted, embroidered, quilted; they were milliners and seamstresses.  I have a legacy.  But their work is not signed nor was it ever hung in galleries.  Like much of the fiber work of history that provides me with so many ideas, it was made for use by family and friends, made with love and beauty as a way to provide color and warmth to everyday lives.

3 quilts s

When I saw the NaPoWriMo prompt from day 3 to write a fan letter, I went through names of people in history that I admired.  But really, the largest influence on my life comes from these women who for the most part are known by one name: Anonymous.  That Virginia Woolf spoke of the writers who claim that same name adds another dimension to this inheritance.

mosai quilt collage s

still anonymous
patterning comfort  who was
hand eye  this woman

plate quilt close up s

Day 2: a quote in answer to Elusive Trope’s 3-day quote challenge.

About the artwork:
The top stitched piece and the crazy quilt painting were done for a print rep I worked with for a short time in the early 1990s.  We had an idea that we could sell print patterns based on traditional fiber arts.  The idea did not prove successful in terms of sales, but I ended up with some interesting artwork

The quilts were made by my great aunt Del, sister-in-law to my grandmother, inherited from my mother and aunt.

The collage is from a sketchbook of work based on quilts done in the early 1980s.

poetry month

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About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel

38 responses to “Anonymous Was a Woman”

  1. merrildsmith says :

    I love this post. It’s particularly interesting to me since I’ve studied so many ordinary and sometimes anonymous women. Records of these women can be found, as you said, in their quilts and needle work. (You might enjoy Marla Miller’s histories.) But I’ve looked through other records–court records and such–to find women.

    My husband’s grandmother made beautiful quilts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jodi says :

    such an extraordinary legacy – anonymous women – we are all part of that family. Beautiful patchwork – lovely words. A wonderful post Kerfe! A lovely start to the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharon Mann says :

    Seeing your fiber work just fills my heart with joy. I too come from a family of anonymous fiber artists. I cherish the hand made things passed on to me.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and fiber art, it all gives me wonderful inspired sensation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sand Salt Moon says :

    Very interesting quote and thoughts about women – your textile work is wonderfully colorful and inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. memadtwo says :

    Love this. And because of your idea to blog we are no longer anonymous!

    Like

  6. Lynz Real Cooking says :

    Beautiful work, patterns and colors!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Snehal Kank says :

    Beautiful patchwork! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash) says :

    Fantastic post! Lovely tribute in words and images!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Teresa Robeson says :

    I loooove quilts and wish I have a family history of them, but it’s not a Chinese thing, alas. I also want to start making them but there are only so many free minutes in a day. These are soooo beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Elusive Trope says :

    You bring out the post-sructualist out of me. 🙂 If gender is an act of performativity (as opposed to performance [and I will spare your viewers 20 pages explaining the difference between the two]. then what is the difference between a man’s voice and a woman’s voice. As Judith Butler might say, what is difference between heterosexual woman and a homosexual woman.

    Like

    • memadtwo says :

      I’m not quite sure what you are saying…can men work in fiber? Yes. But when they do, they are much more likely to be named. I worked in the garment center for many years, and 95% of the anonymous designers were women. The ones who actually did the design work as well as the craft work. Male designers are more likely to be in charge (and thus not really doing the designing), and be named. I’m not saying men can’t do fiber work at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Elusive Trope says :

        what i am trying to say (via Judith Butler) is that notion that there is a simple binary of male / female breaks down when one looks closely. Is a transgender individual speaking with a female voice or a male voice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • memadtwo says :

        It’s a good question. Is there a “female voice”? I think yes, as people seem to be astounded when men can write so well in the voice of a woman and vice versa. Adults writing in the voice of a child, etc. But as to who is capable of making that voice real…gender or age are much less important than (for lack of a better word) talent. If I implied that only women could write about women, I didn’t mean to! Can a gendered person speak with a transgender voice? That might be more difficult…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Elusive Trope says :

        In no way did I think you implied that only women could write about women.

        I remember many moons agao during a course on “gay and lesbian fiction” when the professor asked (almost to a tee) “is there a “a gay voice?” The silence in the class is so memorable — not because no was thinking, but the opposite, everyone was thinking, for many, in my opinion, in a terrain they had never had before.

        Liked by 1 person

      • memadtwo says :

        I think that’s true. It would be hard for me to write from an experience that was not my own, but some people do it successfully. And many gay people have spent a lot of time pretending to be someone else, which adds another layer…

        Liked by 1 person

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