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Sunshine and Shadow, Darkness and Light

September 30, 2019

 When we look at a reflection we are seeing, not a replica, but a mirror image.


In our lives, in our families, in our communities we live with the up and the down, the dark and the light, joy and sorrow, loss and gain. I see those opposites as reflections of one another, inextricably linked, but in contrast to one another. How do you understand joy if you have never experienced sorrow? How can you appreciate the sunlight, if you know nothing of darkness? They are both elements of a single, cohesive design which could not exist without both sides. 


When presented with the theme of "Reflection"  I struggled to connect the theme to our overall theme of "Community". You might say I "reflected" on its meaning and how I could work with the concept. Eventually, I thought about my favorite Amish quilts, the Sunshine and Shadow quilts. I read that the Amish belief is that all of life has value and meaning--the good times and the bad--and all is an integral part of the whole. The quilt Sunshine and Shadow expresses that philosophy by using light and dark in equal parts, each reflecting the other. No piece is dominant. All are equal, creating a beautiful design.


 Amish Sunshine and Shadow Quilt, c. 1940, from Lancaster Amish Quilt Museum


I was drawn to the idea of making my take on a traditionally pieced quilt, interpreting the principles of the Amish Sunshine and Shadow to illustrate the way community life reflects upon itself. Diversity within our communities can create a patchwork of experience, including conflict as well as cooperation, good times as well as bad, but the work of stitching the pieces together, giving each equal value, each its perfect space, can create a beautiful whole.


While traditional quilting is not my thing, I reflect on how often I find inspiration and wisdom in the meaning and beauty of those old quilts...



Reflection: Sunshine and Shadow

20" x 40"

Machine pieced and quilted

Terry Grant



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