I’ve been a quilter for almost 20. Following the 2016 election, I found a need to pour and express my conflicting feelings and opinions into a constructive and creative outlet and began to make what I call Commentary Quilts. This series, Women’s Work, is in reaction to the jarring loss of women’s reproductive rights and a guaranteed right to an abortion in the U.S.
Inspired by the work of artists such as Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer, I’ve collected compelling texts and phrases that I’ve seen on signs at marches for women, abortion rights, and social justice.
This series of art quilts contrast harsh text and ideas about abortion and women’s rights with stereotypically soft, feminine pink/pastel quilt tops embellished with overtly lacy vintage doilies and linens. Each quilt is unique. Each is individually pieced or made as whole cloth from vintage sheets. All lettering is traced from a template, cut out by hand (often twice), and fused to the fabric top. The top is quilted on a longarm quilting machine with batting and backing. Vintage lace and doilies are carefully pinned, then sewn onto the quilt top. Final touches to secure the lettering include sewing/tacking each letter onto the quilt before adding a faced binding to finish the quilt edges.
I have collected antique vintage doilies and linens for many years. I am moved by how these beautiful pieces of handmade art – presumably made by women – have been cast off, in piles and generally unvalued. These doilies are often found tossed in corners of estate sales and antique shops, purchased in cents to the pound. To me they represent the lives of women, their beauty, and inherent value, that is thrown away by our loss of freedom.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Lorraine Woodruff-Long is a self-taught quilter and fiber artist with a primary focus on color, improvisation, and recycled/repurposed fabrics.
Raised and educated in Texas, Lorraine served in Peace Corps Kenya and afterwards moved to California as a “bucket list” dream to temporarily experience living in a progressive urban city. She fell in love with San Francisco and never left. After a career in marketing and advertising, Lorraine later worked in the nonprofit sector while raising two city kids with her architect husband.
Lorraine learned to sew from her mother as a child and made her first quilts as a mom for her young children. With no formal art training, she found creative inspiration from the “Quilts of Gees Bend” exhibition at the de Young Museum in 2006. This sparked a fire to create with improvisation and repurposed materials. When Lorraine stumbled upon the online “modern quilt” movement, she fell deeply into her passion, carving out time from her demanding work and family life to create in spare hours on evenings and weekends. She has received numerous awards for her quilts at local, national, and international quilt shows. She is a member of the Modern Quilt Guild, San Francisco Quilt Guild, Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), East Bay Heritage Quilters, ArtSpanSF, Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art, and a volunteer with the Social Justice Sewing Academy Remembrance Project.
Her work has been juried into shows at the de Young Museum/San Francisco, the California Heritage Museum/Santa Monica, the Sanchez Art Center/Pacifica, the Drawing Room/San Francisco, and the San Francisco Women Artists Network Gallery among others. Her work is included in the 2021 book, “Stitching Stolen Lives: The Social Justice Sewing Academy Remembrance Project.”
© Lorraine Woodruff-Long