The Improvisational Quilts of Susana Allen Hunter (1912-2005)
Like most African-American farmers in the South, Susana Hunter and her husband Julius did not own the land that they plowed, planted and harvested. Susana helped with the farm work, sowing seeds for crops, hoeing fields, milking cows, feeding chickens, and tending the garden. Tenant farmers had to be very resourceful, and there was little chance for financial independence or security.
Represented in the fabrics that make up Susana Hunter's quilts are work clothes worn from the family's toil in the fields, sacks from the cotton seed they planted each spring, scraps from the clothes Susana sewed for her family, and bulk sacks from the food staples the Hunters bought at the local general store.
Improvisational quilts involve a loosely structured approach to pattern and color combinations. Making these quilts required a continual stream of creativity during the entire process, as the quiltmaker made hundreds of design decisions on the fly, fashioning an attractive whole out of whatever materials were at hand.
From The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation™.