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Quilt, House Top with Green Ties

Origin: America, Alabama, Wilcox County
Overall: 84 x 73 1/2in.
Cotton, wool, synthetics
Museum Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Fund
Acc. No. 2013.609.3
Pieced quilt in Housetop variation, with a centered brown rectangle, surrounded by strips and smaller pieces of dark and bright textiles. The whole is tied at regular intervals with bright green synthetic wool yarn, without batting. The textiles include double knits, solid red and solid white synthetic satin; pink and green plaid; flocked dots; solid woolen and wool-look wovens; woven stripes; and a variety of prints, including purple elephants on orange ground; flowers on white ground; paisley; a faux pieced star pattern quilt print; and a big of feed sack printed with “100 lb.” The quilt is backed with sheeting stamped with the words “West Seneca State School” within a rectangle. Edges finished by bringing backing to the face and stitching a narrow edging in some areas and turning the front to the back and stitching in other areas.
Susana Allen Hunter (1912–2005)
Wilcox or Dallas County, Alabama, 1965-1975
Cotton, wool, synthetic fabrics
84 x 73 1/2 in. (213 x 187 cm)
Museum Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Fund, 2013.609.3
Susana Hunter combined a wide variety of colorful printed and woven textiles from dresses and women’s suits with utilitarian feed sacking and tied the whole together with evenly spaced bright-green synthetic yarn that breaks up the large blocks of dark textiles and picks up the fresh green color in some of the smaller pieces. One of the textiles features purple elephants on dotted orange ground, a print taken from a dress designed and labeled by Suzy Perette in the 1960s.
The quilt is backed with sheeting stamped with the words “West Seneca State School,” a residential school for developmentally challenged youth in West Seneca, New York; the institution held that name from 1962 to 1974. According to family members, Susana’s daughter, Lillie Bell, worked for a doctor in New York for many years before retiring back home to Alabama. The daughter may have sent her mother sheets discarded after the West Seneca State School had changed its name.
The edges are finished by bringing the white backing to the face in some areas and by turning the face fabrics to the back in other areas.
Susana Allen Hunter was an African-American woman who was born in a rural area of Alabama and grew up in a large family of farmers in Wilcox County. She married Julius Hunter (1909–1996) about 1928, and the couple raised two children as well as grandson Tommie Hunter, after his mother left to find work in the city. Susana and Julius were tenant farmers in Wilcox County, occupying a two-room house with newspaper stuck to the walls for insulation and handmade quilts on the beds for warmth.
Around 1970, the Hunters moved about eight miles to Minter in Dallas County, and Susana remained there after Julius’s death, occupying herself by making more quilts and gardening. Susana Allen Hunter left a legacy of at least a hundred quilts.
Provenance:Acquired from the quiltmaker's grandson and his wife.