Excerpt from Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s Playing with Purpose.
My earliest memory, in kindergarten, was being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up: “An artist!” I would chirp. I was always fascinated by color, pattern, and design. Sleeping under double-knit polyester scrap quilts certainly set my color sense from a young age! A sign of the times!
Growing up on the farm, though, I knew I would not stay there; I always had a wandering spirit. I wanted to explore and see what else was out there—both as a physical journey and a creative one.
I enjoyed the basic skills I learned on the farm—sewing, gardening, fixing fences, making clothes—but I did not think that anything I learned on the farm would serve me in my artistic future. I was, however, a teenager, and that explains a lot.… I wanted my life to go beyond the parameters of the farm. There was more to see in life, and I wanted out of the country.
In college, I knew I would never waver from being an artist. I looked for anything I could do different from my peers. If they were designing on the computer, I was cutting paper. If they were gessoing canvases, I painted on cotton with acrylics. Instead of appreciating my innovative techniques, my teachers would pull me into the hallway and say that stitching fabrics together was just a craft, not art. To me, that is a tireless 500-year-old controversy that does not need to exist. Of course quilts are art!
The key goal in my journey has always been following the joy. That is the purpose. If it’s not the one thing that grabs my attention most, I would move on to the next creative project. But quiltmaking has held my attention the longest; I can push fabrics around like paint on the canvas, and to me, that is the play I enjoy most. I love the challenges of learning new techniques, combining skills, and seeing what else I can do! What else can I try?
Chicken Soup, Rest, Get Well Soon, 2008
Scrappy Bee Quilt, 2010
Stripe It Rich, 2012
Thunderstruck, 2016; quilted by Shelly Pagliai
Flatliners, 2018; quilted by Shelly Pagliai