Tombstone Quilt

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

MMFA_TombstoneQuilt_2005.9.5 (1)
MMFA_TombstoneQuilt_2005.9.5 (1)

MMFA_TombstoneQuilt_2005.9.5 (4)
MMFA_TombstoneQuilt_2005.9.5 (4)


Tombstone Quilt, ca. 1994

Roberta Jemison (American, born 1928)

Boligee, Greene County

Polyester and cotton/polyester blend

Gift of Kempf Hogan

MMFA #2005.9.5


In Roberta Jemison’s Tombstone Quilt, the quilter layered a large “x” shape made up of red diamonds atop a field of blue strips arranged in a traditional “housetop” or “pig pen” pattern. That is, the longest strips are placed around the outside edge, and the sizes become smaller as they move toward the center, which leads the eye to interpret a recession into space. Varying the blue tones in the background intensifies the contrast and enhances this effect.  In this case, the eye sees at least four distinct patterns: that created by the red diamonds, that created by the blue recessive background, and the four large equilateral triangles created by the red “x.” 


Although this quilt is made exactly the same way as Maxtion’s Strip Quilt, Jemison has named it “Tombstone,” for reasons that are not clear. True consensus on what name a quilt design should bear is so uncommon as to be almost nonexistent, and it is the rare maker who does not insist that her own special name for her quilt is the true and proper one, whether experts concur with her or not.


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