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Catalog Data

silk velvet, cotton velveteen, cotton corduroy
55 1/2 × 72 1/2 in. (141 × 184.2 cm)
Between 1890 and 1910
A fan motif creates forty-eight kaleidoscopes of color in this fancy quilt dating to the turn of the twentieth century. Each fan, set in a black square “on point,” or turned like a diamond, opens in six parallel panels of fine cottons, silks, and velvets in an array of solids, along with a few floral prints. In six vertical and eight horizonal rows, fans unfurl along bands of velvet, whose hues alternate symmetrically between narrower blue stripes. Starting with a single cream band in the center, wider bands follow in yellow, green, pink, and mixtures of orange and brown at the outer edges. In additional symmetry, the fans’ outer curves face the cream center band; fans above the band mirror the orientation of those below. Some of the black velvet triangles that once bordered the entire quilt have worn off on two sides. The vibrant beauty of the quilt contrasts with what little is known about the quilter(s) who made it, believed to be African American. This dissonance inspired Washington, DC artist Adrienne Gaither’s mural, Homage to the Unknown, in 2019. Painted on the curved wall of the Anacostia Community Museum’s Sunburst Gallery, the mural draws from the quilt’s geometric shapes and spectrum of colors.
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
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Anacostia Community Museum