Tennessee State Museum Quilt Exhibition Features More Than 40 quilts from Across the State, Including Two from Jefferson County

Photo Courtesy of Tennessee State Museum

The Tennessee State Museum’s current exhibition, Between the Layers: Art and Story in Tennessee Quilts – its first new show since its grand opening last fall – features close to 40 quilts selected from the Museum’s vast collection that highlight Tennessee’s quilt artistry across more than two centuries and all three grand divisions of the state. Among those quilts are two from Jefferson County, one Eight Pointed Star Quilt (Diamond Pieced Variation) made by Leroy Gannon in the late 1970’s, and a Double Nine Patch Variation Quilt made in the late 1800’s in Jefferson County, the latter from the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Quilt Collection.

Leroy Gannon (1914-2002) was the accounts manager for Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City. After retiring in 1974, he began quilting. Gannon used published patterns and quickly became prolific. In the attached photo, he mastered one of the most demanding traditional quilt patterns, a central eight-pointed star pieced from hundreds of colored diamonds. After WWII, a patriotic interest in traditional American interior decoration inspired revivals of traditional quilt patterns and quilting in general. The first 1950’s upsurge, fueled by a renewed interest in arts and crafts during the 1960’s, blossomed into a full-blown movement by the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976.

The Double Nine Patch Variation quilt was made by an unidentified East Tennessee woman, possibly from Jefferson County, in the late 1800s.

After the Civil War, many quilters still favored designs with open areas for fancy quilted flowers and other motifs. On the other hand, hard times, coupled with more availability of printed cottons, encouraged using block patterns like Log Cabin that utilized small, often unmatched pieces. The skilled maker of the Double Nine Patch Variation quilt deftly coordinated both trends. She combined tiny 1/2 to 5/8 inch squares in groups of nine to make 2 inch squares, five of which were then alternated with four white pieces to make Double Nine-Patch blocks. These, in turn, alternated with large white blocks to create the grid design and allow room for quilted fern leaves.

Between the Layers: Art and Story in Tennessee Quilts runs through July 7, 2019 at the Tennessee State Museum.

Photo Courtesy of Tennessee State Museum
Source: Tennessee State Museum