The autobiographical patchwork crazy quilt that I made between 1967 and 1974 was on display in the lobby of the historic Mills Building in downtown San Francisco from October 18, 2010 to January 15, 2011 as part of a show called “Still Crazy,” which included Victorian and 20th century crazy quilts, loaned by the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Deborah Corsini, curator at SJMQT, created the show.
The piece is 8 feet high and 5 feet wide, and contains “guest embroideries” by my dear friends, author Ray Mungo and composer/author Ramón Sender Barayón, as well as a small piece by quilter Charlotte Lyons, who befriended me at Wheeler Ranch commune while I was writing and illustrating Living on the Earth.
Curator Deborah Corsini wrote:
“Alicia Bay Laurel’s crazy quilt is an excellent example of a 20th century crazy quilt from the decades of the 1960s – 1970s. It is composed of a multitude of irregularly shaped fabrics, many typical of the time period. There are large scale printed florals and smaller ditsy prints as well as embroidered and woven lace. Many of the blocks contain unique and personal appliqued and embroidered scenes. Some examples that clearly reflect on the universal (and astrological) themes that were of interest at the time are a God’s eye and embroidered solar system, a bull (her sun sign), and a flying lion (for Leo rising in her natal chart.) Other blocks charmingly depict the Sausalito houseboat where she lived in 1967 and her guitar with “real” strings. Like the crazy quilts of the 19th century, the one is filled with symbolic and personal references, and clearly references the cultural influences that were surrounding her. Most importantly, this quilt has an embroidered date, 1967 – 1974, and an embroidered signature, Alicia bay laurel, which gives it true authenticity.
“…it is especially compelling because it is the authentic handiwork of a well-known woman, artist, author and creative spirit from that extraordinary ‘hippie’ time. Alicia Bay Laurel’s crazy quilt is an excellent example of the continuum of the crazy quilt’s evolution and is a singular artifact by a multi-talented artist as a part of her early creative output and rich legacy.”
Here I am on the last day of the show, January 14, 2011 with my quilt. You might notice a few minor differences between this one and the one at the photo at the top, which was taken in 2002. That’s because the quilt suffered some damage in 2008 and was expertly restored by Karen Stern at her quilt and textile restoration studio in Berkeley.