Agriculture and Nature
When Alabama became a territory of the United States in 1817, families migrating from the old Atlantic seaboard colonies of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia settled what were previously woodlands occupied by Native Americans. These settlers brought a tradition of agriculture with them—homesteading for small farmers, as well as the slavery-dependent plantation system producing cash crops such as cotton on a larger scale. Subsequent to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, the State’s agricultural base shifted dramatically to a system of family farms, sharecropping, and tenant farming. Alabama was and remains an economy that is dependent on agriculture.
The Sun, Moon, and Stars design reflects the importance of the cycles of nature and seasons through phases of the moon in transit. Celestial references such as the stars also connect the quilt’s imagery to the cycles of day and night. In earlier eras, agricultural labor such as planting and harvesting were timed to coincide with lunar cycles as well as seasonal calendars.
Mary Lucas’ Stars and More quilt also contains stars, as well as what seems to be the repeated appliqued stylized image of a farmer with a hoe. She includes flower imagery, thus linking the world of nature in both the stars and flowers, with the human farmer who is dependent on nature to produce his crop.
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