News Column

'Quilts' mean more than paintings on a barn

August 24, 2014

By Pat Shaver, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

Aug. 24--BLOOMINGTON -- Jo Morrison's 85-year-old barn in Towanda now features a large, quilt-like painting dedicated to her mother and her dog.

The eight-foot-tall painting is among nine added to the list of "barn quilts" in McLean County, for a total of 29. The Barn Quilt Heritage Trail-McLean County Celebration was held Saturday at David Davis Mansion State Historic Site.

"It is art and it represents a lot of things for me. It makes the barn more important," Morrison said, who painted the quilt. "I just go out and look at it every day."

Sammy, a black lab and shepherd mix, died about one year ago. Her mother, Leona Morrison, died in 1979. Morrison's quilt incorporates paw prints, colors important to her mother, and a peony.

Barn quilts started in 2000 in Ohio, said Kay Henrichs, co-chair of Barn Quilt Heritage Trail-McLean County. Today, there are more than 30,000 barn quilts across 30 states. The large paintings represent the look of a quilt and are unique to each barn.

Those interested can take a driving tour through the county to see all 29 barn quilts, Henrichs said.

"It is a good way to highlight the farmers; they often get left out," she said. "This is a big agriculture county and they need to be featured."

Twenty small barn quilts were auctioned at the event to raise money for Barn Quilt Heritage Trail-McLean County. A poem was read about each of the new barn quilts.

"They all tell a story and the stories are highly personal," said Judy Brown, artistic director of Illinois Voices Theatre and a member of the Barn Quilt committee. "There are so many different patterns."

It is important to preserve barns because they are a piece of history, said Pat Huth, secretary of the Barn Keepers of Central Illinois, an organization focused on preserving barns.

"Our barns are vanishing fast. If you don't keep a roof on a barn, it soon vanishes," she said.


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Source: Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)

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