Grandma's favorite Block
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Grandma’s Favorite Block, ca. 1990
Jannie Avant (American, born 1921)
Brewton, Escambia County
Gift of Kempf Hogan in honor of Malcolm and Julie Sutherland
Jannie Avant’s Grandma’s Favorite Block, 1990, is a contemporary update to the traditional pattern, using intensely colored fabrics that complement one another in their brilliant intensity. Her solid pink and yellow squares are grouped to create alternating vertical rectangles—the web of crosses overlaying them is constructed of a brightly striped pattern, which creates blocks that seem to recede into space where the crosses meet.
Jannie Avant was born in Conecuh County, Alabama in 1921. She is a self-taught quilt maker. Nothing in the appearance of this quilt indicates an African American maker. It is based on a traditional block design known as “Grandma’s Favorite”. If an “improvisational” aspect exists in the quilt, it rests in the manner in which Jannie Avant manipulated the basic building block of her quilt, a pink or yellow square with a striped X terminating at the four corners. Rather than setting a pink next to a yellow one to make a commonplace checkerboard, she stacked two or three blocks of the same color to make bars, then alternated the pink and yellow bars. The X of each square joins the next to create a secondary pattern that spreads over the entire surface of the quilt. Avant’s work was included in “From the African Loom to the American Quilt: An Exhibit of African American Quilts from the 1920s to the 1990s,” at the National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 1998.
Back to quilt pair.