Around 1995, as Sarah Lockett's health began to fail, Ronald Lockett and Thornton Dial became increasingly interested in quilts. She had been a quilter, and now both men were beginning to sift through her effects. Many of her quilts, like the vast majority of African American quilts, were patternless improvisations of fabric blocks, more like quilt "backs" than stylized, formal patterns of quilt "fronts." Ronald began to consider the quilt a magic heirloom that tied together many generations in a shared language and process. Also at that time, existential bleakness finally overtook his work and life. Despair found meaning through outrage in a series of pieces occasioned by the Oklahoma City bombing of April 1995. Part city skylines and part shantytowns, these pieces shred the myths of the melting pot, the social mosaic, the American Experiment. "Oklahoma," "Timothy, April Nineteenth (The Number)," "Awakening," and "The Enemy Amongst Us" are frayed and tattered improvisational patchwork quilts. Let us remain mindful, as Lockett was, that one of the dark motives for the Oklahoma bombing was white supremacy, that, far from being an act of maniacal desperation, the Oklahoma bombing was an intentional spectacle of terror, as lynchings once were.


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