In January of 2018, a call for artists wanting to participate in this project was sent throughout social media and the Tuscaloosa News. This panel of artists were given the daunting task of looking back over 200 years of Tuscaloosa’s history by north, south, east and west, and were assigned each section to sew within a 3-month time frame. Then, renowned story quilter Yvonne Wells made the final touches and stitched the front and back together. All elements were hand-stitched. If you are interested in viewing the quilt, please send an email to Elizabeth McGiffert at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hover over the quilt to reveal the four quadrants and scroll below to learn more about each one.
The Northern section of the Bicentennial Quilt features “Tuscaloosans,” the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art, Lake Tuscaloosa, DCH Regional Medical Center, The University of Alabama, and Capitol Park, with its accompanying marker indicating where Creek Chief Eufaula spoke to the Alabama State Legislature before being relocated on the Trail of Tears. All elements are set against a bright blue sky with a blazing sun and multiple trees, highlighting the city’s verdant landscape as a unique component of Tuscaloosa.
Artist: Tonyia Tidline
Representative of East Tuscaloosa are the dome of Bryce Hospital for the Insane; the Moon Winx sign; the Mercedes emblem; and camouflage tents representing the V. A. Hospital, the old Northington Campus, Veterans Memorial Park, and veterans themselves. The green space notes Alabama’s native flora and fauna. The diagonal brown strip and the beads on it represent the path of the April 27, 2011 tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa and the 52 lives lost that day.
Artist: Sharron Rudowski
This panel includes some of Tuscaloosa’s earliest places like Greenwood Cemetery, founded in 1819, to our landscape’s most recent additions such as the Farmer’s Market, which opened in 2012. Industry and historical landmarks are the main theme of this section, while also featuring transportation, gathering places, and education. This panel depicts West Tuscaloosa’s history--from serving whiskey, to educating pastors, to innovations sent to Siberia through a joint project between the U.S. and Russia.
Artist: Amy H. G. Echols
Southern pictorials are constructed of pinked wool felt and cotton. They begin with a strong history of Christianity and the Civil Rights movement. Vignettes feature agricultural, educational, and industrial innovations that helped frame the Queen City. Named for legendary 16th century Native American leader Chief Tuskaloosa, the city was first inhabited by members of the Black Warrior tribe. The “Druid City” oak along with the iconic Bama Theatre marquee represent the city as a thriving cultural oasis.
Artist: Becky Booker
Yvonne Wells taught physical education in public schools for most of her adult life. In 1979, while her Tuscaloosa home was undergoing major renovations, she had to sit near the fireplace to keep warm. She decided to make her first quilt to warm her legs until the heating system was restored. Wells’ first quilt, made from necessity, was the initial step on a path of discovery. Her story and picture quilts express her spirituality, humor, and life experiences. Her self-taught approach to quilt construction and her work in isolation from others has solidified her own voice. She makes her quilts for herself to satisfy the compulsion to create and to express something she wants to say. Wells has earned the prestigious Alabama Arts Award and the Visual Craftsmanship Award from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Her work has been featured in traveling exhibits at museums all over the country. Six of her quilts are now part of the permanent collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Nebraska, and “Noah’s Ark,” one of Wells’ quilts, is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. As Creative Director for the Tuscaloosa 200 Bicentennial project, Yvonne sewed all completed panels of the quilt together, added a vintage Alabama flag to the back, and married the four regions with the Black Warrior River. Yvonne also added a few of her signature symbols including a series of three birds representing the Trinity and the sun representing all life. The border, also designed by Yvonne, contains several symbols, such as 200 buttons to represent the city’s 200th birthday and four hands (one black, three white), to represent each of the artists who spent hours creating the quilt with care.