May 27-June 2 - "The Son of Man Shall Come"
64 artists (American, born in England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Switzerland, and the United States)
Fourteenth Ward Album Quilt, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1857
textile, 126 x 99 inches
Photograph courtesy of Carol Nielson
In Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1857, a large group of 64 women in the newly-reconstituted Relief Society made an album quilt for charity. Each created a “hot pad” quilt square, stuffed and quilted it, and then signed it. Next, these quilt blocks were joined together into a whole, just shy of king size. The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has written at length about the quilt as a document of history. She has uncovered the individual lives of the quilters and placed them into context of their time and place.
The contributions of these individual quilt blocks—flowers, vegetables, mottos, patriotic motifs, beehives, birds, and decorative patterns—reveal a community of artists as well as a society of charity. Like the offering of the widow’s two mites, found in Luke 21: 1-4, these humble quilt squares became consecrated into a grand whole through unassuming service. (Highly recommended is the 2010 Harvard Presidential Address by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich that examines the 1857 quilt in vibrant, historical detail. An American Album, 1857 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.)
In the October General Conference, 1976, Elder Neal A. Maxwell referenced the widow of scriptures and said, “We can know that when we have truly given what we have…; it is, in that respect, all that was asked. The widow who cast in her two mites was neither self-conscious nor searching for mortal approval.” Notwithstanding My Weakness, Elder Neal A. Maxwell
1. The widow "of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living" (Mark 12:44). What does her example demonstrate, not simply of her financial means but of her all-encompassing commitment to follow Jesus ("all her living")? Joseph Smith said, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary [to lead] unto life and salvation” (Lectures on Faith, p. 58).
2. What did Jesus teach in this story about judging the contributions of others?
3. Although each of the quilt squares was too small separately to provide sufficient cover to anyone, collectively they were large enough to warm and protect many. Can you think of an example when individual unique contributions added to the whole toward a service greater than was possible simply by one?
4. Art experience: Give each person in your family or group a square piece of paper of uniform size. Ask each person to fill their square with either a drawing, painting, collage, or design, in any medium, that represents a personal talent or unique achievement. Collect all of these squares together and make a wall hanging that visually represents the distinctive strength of the composite of your group. Think of ways that you together, as represented in your quilt, can do extraordinary things when in combination.