I recently stumbled across a discussion guide about “Why Quilts Matter“, and I want to explore in detail some of the questions within the guide book. Today, the question that jumped right out and grabbed me is:
What kinds of emotional connections do we have with quilts, and why do they engage us?
It is hard to know where to start in this large landscape of a question, but I really like the quote above by Marc Newson, “If you see something that you feel is familiar it gives you an important kind of emotional connection.” Beyond just a quilt itself, have you not found how easy conversation can become with a stranger when you realize that you are both quilters? I love watching this play out as I meet new people and introduce myself as a quilter. It is very common for their eyes to light up and for them to recall a family member who quilts, a beloved quilt that was handmade for them, or for them to acknowledge that they are also a quilter.
Those thoughts are secondary to the root of the question, though.
Personally, I started thinking that quilts meet some basic fundamental human needs. They provide warmth, they can convey a sense of love or care, and they can even be transformed to provide protection. Looking to Wikipedia for information on fundamental human needs, I found this chart:
Without too much of a stretch, I can see how quilts can help fulfill each of these fundamental human needs! How emotionally engaging is that?!
Quilts can make us feel a wide range of emotions. The quilts that stick with me are quilts that I deeply emotionally connect with for one reason or another. It could be one of the few remaining quilts that my paternal grandmother made, an artful quilt that shocks me into deep thought about a topic, a beautiful and artistic quilt that appeals to my sense of aesthetics, a quilt that was made with such love and grace and caring that I can feel the affection throbbing through an image on a computer screen, or many other responses.
I also approach quilting as an act of mindful meditation. To me, nothing says love and warmth like a hand made quilt, and I put my love and joy of creation into the quilts I make. When I am working on a quilt, I tend to be very focused on who I am making the quilt for and why. The emotional connections that I form with each quilt I create are different and unique, and I value each experience for the emotional gift it can also provide me.
I will close with another question that strikes me as a follow on to this discussion: Do you find that you have specific types of emotional connections to quilts or do you prefer quilts that elicit a particular emotion?