Labor Quilt


Quilt made with donated clothing and other materials, seen here inArt of the State at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, where the piece won Jump Street’s “Spirit of the Arts” award

Collaborators: Lydia, John, and Christin at Gurdy Run Woolen Mill in Halifax, PA

"Labor Quilt" was my meditation on getting to know the working women in Harrisburg, the town where I had recently moved a few years ago. I asked for donations of used work clothing from locals to make the pieced top, and sewed one of my old paint backdrops on the reverse. I worked at a wool mill and used industrial waste from the carding machine to make the quilt’s batting. While working there, I learned an industrial fiber waste salvage technique from Lydia—the owner of the mill.

The binding of this quilt is made of Kevlar, which was invented by a woman named Stephanie Kwolek in the labs at DuPont in nearby Wilmington, Delaware. By incorporating this history physically into the structure of the piece, it becomes more visible through documentation of the work.