Photo credit: Michael Hnatov
Accession Number: C.2014.403.17
Dimensions: 72 in X 36 in X 3/8 in
Dimensions (Metric): 182.88 cm X 91.44 cm X 7.62 cm
Credit Line: Gift of An American Quilt, Inc.
Handmade quilt from the project An American Quilt. The quilt has an abstract design of an American flag and a hand holding a lighted candle.
An American Quilt, Inc., was conceived by lawyer and New York City resident Bill Bace in the days after September 11, 2001. Bace was familiar with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt that honored the victims of the AIDS pandemic and felt that an undertaking of similar scope might help grieving relatives and others find some comfort through the ritual of collective remembrance.
In late September 2001, An American Quilt, Inc., was launched as a disaster relief charity, open to all interested participants. No prior needlecraft experience was required. Makers were encouraged to submit quilt designs measuring three feet by six feet and that memorialized a specific individual killed on 9/11 or paid tribute to an affiliated group of victims. With the October 2001 advent of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, several families of U.S. military casualties soon connected with the project organizers and submitted quilts in recognition of loved ones killed in the War on Terror.
More than 60 quilt panels were contributed to the project and were sewn together in groups of three to four panels for display in July 2002 at the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park. The panels were then displayed in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall around the first anniversary of 9/11.
The evolution of this communal artwork was the subject of An American Quilt: Stitching Together Our 9/11 Memories (2016), a documentary by New York City–based collaborators Roz Sohnen and Lynn Cassanati. This sensitive film gave voice to the emotions and choices that six families navigated as they composed their respective panels and took comfort in that act of tactile tribute.
In 2013, Bill Bace donated the ensemble of quilts to the Museum.