Nancy Crow is a very prolific, hard working quilt artist whose innovative work never fails to fascinate. In the almost forty years that she has been quilting, teaching and leading developments in the quilting community, her work has evolved from quilts inspired by the grid type patterns that many quilters traditionally use to works that have more in common with contemporary paintings. She was one of the earliest quilters to break away from the traditional concept of the quilt as something made for the bed and instead has made quilts that are more suitable for hanging on the wall. Whereas her earlier work was characterized by complexity, the work she is doing now is focused on simpler shapes and more graphic qualities. Taking a cue from African American quilter Anna Williams (whom she credits for the inspiration) Crow moved to using spontaneous and intuitive cutting and piecing in the last decade. Despite her innovations, she continues to machine piece her works and she employs a hand quilter who finishes them.
This book is the fourth book that she has published in her extensive career. Like all of the others, the book is of very high quality, replete with fascinating photos and excerpts from the journals she keeps. The book accompanied a 2007 exhibit of twenty-five quilts at the Snyderman Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. The exhibit focused on three series she is working on, "Constructions," (machine pieced and quilted cottons that she hand dyes in her studio; "Markings," (screen printed and monoprinted fabrics that are pieced in large sections and hand quilted) and "Structures" (whole cloth quilts that are screenprinted and then hand quilted). Some of the "Structures" quilts are very reminiscent of the African Bogolanfini textiles.
I have to admit that I was at first quite taken aback by the evolution of some of her work in this book. These are not "pretty" quilts. A number of them are reminiscent of and are named by expressions of her inner anxiety and turmoil, which she writes about in the journals. No, these are not "pretty" quilts, but they are very powerful, very graphic, very beautiful, and I have grown to like them as much as I have liked her other work. The quilts in the "Construction" series had me wondering "How does she do that?" They are fascinating works.
An extensive introductory essay by David Hornung pays tribute to Crow as an artist, teacher and leader in the quilting community. For those interested in learning from her, Nancy Crow teaches classes on her farm in Ohio and around the country.