Quilt Index Record: 67-EC-183

Overall Quilt Description

Arizona Quilt Documentation Project
Quilts and Health
Mesa, Arizona
Art Quilt

Overall Quilt Description - condition, inscriptions and fabric source


Quilt Construction - binding, batting, quilting

Allen, Janice L.

Ownership and Contact Information - Quilt maker Family Information

Child Crisis Center
Arizona (AZ)
Allen, Janice L.

Image Upload

Detail 1
Detail 2
Detail 3

Data Verification

Lynn Miller

Information source fields

Arizona Quilt Documentation Project
Arizona Quilt Documentation Project
Arizona Quilt Documentation Project
Arizona Quilt Documentation Project
Arizona Quilt Documentation Project
Contributing Institutions
MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University, Michigan State University Museum, Quilt Alliance
Quilt Index
Resource Type

Contest, Exhibits, Essays, journals

September 6, 1992: “Sunday Night with Sandra Mann,” a television program covering sexual trauma and abuse. My quilt, “Facing Grief,” was used as a backdrop at the end of the show to display the times and dates of the Healing Images Art Fest. September 24, 1992, through September 29, 1992: “Healing Images Art Fest,” an art exhibit sponsored by Pikes Peak Mental Health Center, at a local mall. The exhibition was comprised entirely of works by artists who have been victims of sexual trauma. September 25, 1992: Channel 11, KKTV News Reporter, Richard Randell, interviewed me in front of my quilt “Facing Grief,” for the 5 pm and 10pm news. 1992 Healing Images Art Fest, “Facing Grief” October 29, 1992: “Facing Grief” hung at the 1992 Pikes Peak Mental Health Annual Dinner and Meeting, at Cheyenne Mountain Conference Resort. The evening was titled “Shine the Light on You,” and I was among the artists receiving special recognition at the banquet. November 8, 1992 through December 6, 1992: “Facing Grief” hung at “The Colorado Quilts and Woodworking Show,” in the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. There were eighty entrants and room for only forty pieces to hang in the museum. The quilts were chosen by three judges from the area. 1994: Healing Images Art Fest, “Facing Grief” and “Secrets” 1996: Healing Images Art Fest, “Secrets,” “Facing Grief” and “Now I See” September 2, 1996: Newspaper article, The Gazette Telegraph, City, Region, State News, Section B. An article was written on Sexual Abuse and Trauma, highlighting the Healing Images Art Fest. There is a photograph of me with “Facing Grief.” Air Force Academy, Art Show for Sexual Abuse. The entire triptych series was exhibited. Calhoun County Fair in Calhoun, Colorado. I received a 1st place ribbon for my only entry, “Facing Grief.”
“SECRETS” 1994 This is the first quilt in the Triptych, but the second quilt I made for the series. When I learned that I could work with fabric for the art show, I was so excited. I had not taken any drawing class up to that point. Through my counseling I knew the importance of grieving. While very difficult, it is an essential process to emerge from the trauma one has survived, to a healthier life. Anyone interested in participating in the art show had to have been through some sort of sexual trauma. That was the only criteria for entering the show. They had many different mediums represented. The works of art were supposed to reflect a form of the trauma endured, how the person was dealing with the impact, and what positive steps were being taken to heal. This quilt, “Secrets,” is hand-appliqued and hand-quilted and has a muslin backing as the base. The face is drawn with permanent extra-fine markers, and actual powder blush is used for her cheeks. I drew lightly in pencil at first, to allow for corrections. I quilted the face like I would draw the lines, but it made her look very old and wrinkly, so I removed it, and instead quilted just a few places to achieve the depth I needed for her features. This quilt took me three months to complete. After I displayed my first quilt, “Facing Grief,” at the Art Show in Colorado Spring in 1992, I knew there was more to the story, which needed to be shared. This quilt is about holding onto grief and abuse (the storm) for nearly forty years. One day at work I was doodling on some paper and drawing faces. I was a receptionist at the time and had periods when I was not busy. The first face I drew didn’t affect me. So I drew another one, and it looked familiar; but then again, not, so I set it aside. The next one I drew was the one I chose to use on my girl quilt. I threw the first one away and for a reason I couldn’t explain, held on to the second one. A few days later I noticed the face of the second one again and another piece of paper was covering up the mouth. WOW, those were my mother’s eyes! I was going to make a quilt called “Mother” (she was my terrorist), but as time wore on and I grew healthier, I didn’t feel the need to do that anymore. For the girl quilt I took a standard sheet of paper and drew my basic design with the face I had chosen. Then I drew that basic design to scale. Finding fabric for this quilt was so much fun. I love purples and blues. I used cottons, cotton blend with metallic threads, tissue lamé and silk embroidery thread, and permanent extra-fine markers. To hold the upper part of the body of the quilt up while hanging, and not stretch the fabric, I made an additional sleeve and inserted a foam core. Then I put a sleeve on the back of the piece to hang the quilt up. The first quilt represents the repression of grief, which I refer to as “the storm,” and keeping it a secret. The second quilt tells my story of facing the grief of the emptiness, neglect, abuse, and shame I suffered as a child. Notice how her hands are behind her back; that is how I felt most of my life, as I did not have control over anything as I was growing up, and I often felt like I was a puppet for others to use. I could never just “be.” My mother was a rageaholic, and I couldn’t breathe in the morning until she awoke and I knew who I had to be that day to survive with her and fit into the family. She would beat on my father, who would then get drunk and molest children. It wasn’t safe to tell anyone anything as a child, and secrets become easier to keep as time goes on, until it is a habit. I was afraid that if anyone really knew me, and what had happened, they wouldn’t like me and would surely consider me “the crazy one.” In the center of the girl quilt (the belly), notice the storm; it is a representation of my suppressing all that grief, and holding it secret. I hoped that no one would really see me and who I really was, yet I had such a burning desire to be known and loved. In my young adult years, I tried to dress in nice clothes and wear pretty things. I didn’t want the outside world to see the dark and ugly things. Notice that the pretty coat she is wearing doesn’t close all the way. My message here is that we may believe we can conceal our truths by using pretty objects or distractions, but reality still exists beneath the cloak, and is closer to the skin. When we repress our feelings and secrets for so long, we run out of room, and they begin seeping out and appearing in other areas of our lives, often in negative and destructive behaviors. The storm in her belly is applique cotton and silver lamé for the lightning bolts. I backed the lamé with fusible interfacing. The torrents of rain coming down are made of silk embroidery thread done in Brazilian embroidery. (That stitch is called the bullion stitch.) The skirt in this quilt was very important to me. I found an authentic prairie petticoat pattern in “Folk Wear Patterns.” In the early 1800s, ladies would quilt cottons and batting, or silks and batting, to make a pretty petticoat to wear under their cotton calico skirts, to stay warm. My father always had his hands up my petticoat as a little girl. By making the petticoat, I claim my power back from my father. That is why the pattern needed to be authentic. He couldn’t touch it anymore. Notice the petticoat on the girl quilt is tucked in at the bottom, to hold it down so no one could get in without my consent. This quilt, “Secrets,” along with the quilt, “Facing Grief,” hung in the second Art Show in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1994, to educate the community on sexual trauma. After the show, a therapist called and said she was interviewing a few of the artists for her doctoral dissertation, and wished to interview me. The first thing she did when she came into my workspace was to measure the girl quilt and then measure me. She noted that by adding legs and feet to the girl, she was my height exactly. I hadn’t planned that, and thus the beauty of “Art Therapy,” which often draws from the subconscious mind of the artist, that which the conscious shields, and sets it free.
QUILT STORIES I am a survivor of childhood sexual and physical trauma and neglect. I grew up in a family with a raging and physically abusive mother, and a father who was a pedophile and lecturer. Any nurturing I received was from my father, and that was a twisted and toxic attention. I received no love from my mother; but rejection and neglect. As a child, my eyes saw the repetitive cycle of my mother beating on my father, and him crying, getting drunk, and molesting. This was my reality. It took me many years to reach a point when I could verbalize these truths, and honestly deliver them back to my parents, and understand them to be theirs to hold, and not mine. The quilts I will share about hold part of my journey to wellness, as the process of creating them helped me through the perils and discoveries of my path to myself; the self I am apart from, and in spite of, the scars of my childhood. In 1991, I received a flyer in the mail, at my home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, inviting those with histories of sexual trauma to participate in an art show. The idea had been introduced by a therapist who had been working with women with histories of sexual abuse and/or rape, as a means to validate their experiences and their journeys. The art show was intended for their benefit, as well as to educate the public regarding sexual trauma. The first show was in 1992, and continued ever two years for about a decade thereafter. Initially, I considered the flyer and threw it on my desk, thinking what a strange idea it was to endeavor to bring a show of this nature out into the public. However, I didn’t through the flyer away! It waited for me on my desk, and I acknowledged it each day for about two weeks, until I eventually picked it up and, with fear and trepidation, made the call. I did not think of myself as an artist, and I told the person on the phone that I was not an artist, and couldn’t paint, sculpt or write, but I could sew. The answer was “yes,” and fabric could be my medium. Besides the birth of my children, I could recall never having been so excited, happy, and frightened in my life! My spirit must have known I was, in fact, preparing for birth. I had been in therapy already, working through childhood trauma, so the foundation was laid. The process of making the quilts allowed me to delve much deeper in my grief work, and I found myself experiencing a catharsis: a great cleansing and healing. I learned to respect the process and, and moreover to listen and to trust it. (Perhaps that is the most difficult for those whose innate trust was impeded due to abuse and neglect.) I finished a Triptych (a fine art; a set of three that work together to tell a story, and yet may stand alone as individuals.) That first show was my unveiling, and began another leg of my healing journey. I will always be grateful for the difficult and deep waters of that creative process, and the fun and excitement I experienced in completing them. These quilts are considered “Art Therapy Quilts,” for the process they offer the creator; however, like a poem or a painting, they may hold different stories for the beholder, and are therefore works of art in and of themselves. I will try and take you on my journey and the birth of these quilts. I give all the credit to God. He directed my journey and gifted me with the love of sewing, and the spirit and strength to heal and to share.

Why and where was the quilt made; source of info

United States

Detail Images


Additional Records

No additional records