In these quilts and textiles from the Second International Art Competition, Latter-day Saint artists have expressed their testimonies using needle and thread.
Lyn Daugherty of Sandy, Oregon, read the story in Genesis 37:3: “Israel loved Joseph … and he made him a coat of many colours.” [Gen. 37:3] Recognizing that this coat symbolized a special bond between father and son, Sister Daugherty created a coat for her mother, which represented the special bond between them as a modern-day parent and child. Sister Daugherty explains that the “coat of many colours” she pieced and quilted for her mother is an outgrowth of her American culture, since pieced quilts are a traditional American art form.
In creating a utilitarian artwork with religious and cultural significance, Sister Daugherty is representative of many artists who express themselves using fabric and a needle and thread as their medium. Using what they find in their own home environment, individuals—usually homemakers—create clothing for their families and use fabric to decorate their homes. As soon as a person begins to embellish a utilitarian creation, it becomes art. Traditionally, textile arts were most commonly created by women, but men are now exploring these media.
From this type of embellishment, a variety of elaborate traditions have appeared in virtually every country: needlepoint in England and Europe; heavily embroidered costumes in Scandinavia, central Europe, and the Orient; and tapa cloth in Tonga.
Like other types of folk art, textile arts often draw their subject matter from images found in existing artwork. Folk artists consider this a compliment to the original artist. Especially in religious art, Latter-day Saint folk artists are likely to express their faith using images that are familiar to them, such as those we see here: Christ, temple, family, missionaries, and stories from the scriptures. Though the creative viewpoint of each artist is different, the familiar images allow the artist to say through his or her work, “I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, too.”
Each time an artist recreates a familiar image, using another medium in combination with elements of his or her culture, a new image evolves. The Philippine embroidery titled Families Are Forever (page 45) is an example of this. Here we see the familiar image of the Salt Lake Temple, but the artist’s culture is reflected in the palm tree and bright colors.
As the Church continues to spread throughout the world, Latter-day Saint art will reflect artists’ testimonies of the gospel with an increasing diversity of cultural expression.
The textile arts featured here were among the eight hundred entries from forty-one countries in the Second International Art Competition, sponsored in 1990 by the Museum of Church History and Art. A six-member jury presented the awards. Among these were three winners of awards of distinction and twenty-four winners of awards of merit—both cash awards—as well as twenty-two purchase awards. All awards were funded by an anonymous donor.