Anne Burton was driving when she received the call with test results.
She already knew that her two-year-old son, August, had a tumor in a lymph node, which was wrapped around his facial nerve. Yet, after three months of scans and consultations, the cause was elusive. The latest results were in: the tumor was growing quickly and had to be removed. August’s surgery was in 10 days. The nurse told Burton she could bring a quilt to comfort her son in the hospital.
“I made a quilt in a week, with lots of tears and frantic energy. My older son, Everett, helped, too.” Burton added, “Quilting can be artful and meditative: cut, sew, repeat. It gave me a process to follow, a way to take care of my family when I felt so helpless.”
Burton is a printmaker whose art has often addressed subjects of feminism and identity. However, August’s illness and surgery and the long months not knowing what caused it changed her and her work. What emerged entwines strands of her life: the familiar fibers of the handmade Japanese papers on which she prints her art, a family heritage of caring for loved ones with sewing and quiltmaking, and the physical and emotional bonds with her son whose flesh had been invaded by an un-named, biological enemy.
The underlying geometry of the prints in Paper, Fabric, and Flesh arose from quilts’ traditional patterning, and the imagery generated from her crash course in bacterial biology, human disease, and the inseparable relationship between humans and the environment. The result is a fascinating series of prints that draw her roles as an artist, mother, and human being together in a cathartic visual narrative.
Anne Burton - August's Crazy Quilt
International Quilt Museum
1523 N. 33rd St.
Lincoln, NE 68583