Mother is Inspiration in Daughter’s Quilting Art

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature Eileen Flanagan Doughty and her mother Tess Flanagan Doughty this Mothers’ Day month and their art of  guilting. Here are some of Eileen’s work and a bit of commentary about them. Click here to read more about Eileen and her mother.

I love to do thread painting. “Root Domain”, which will always be one of my favorites, and is one of my best-known quilts, has extensive thread painting of the foliage and the mammals.

This quilt depicts the northern Wisconsin woods.  It was designed to be displayed in a nature preserve for an outdoor quilt show.  Reading the essay by soil scientist and geographer Francis D. Hole, “Some Patterns in the Earth Beneath Our Feet”*, I was taken by his description of the beauty to be found in the living soil. Hole suggests becoming “—amateur soil walkers, exhuming soil profiles for temporary admiration— contemplating with affection ‘the root domain of lively darkness and silence.’”

“Below Great Falls” is one of my favorites, as I was especially pleased with the trees. This scene is of the gorge below the falls on the Potomac just north of Washington, where the water swirls with foam and kayakers sometimes practice. The granite rocks are a favorite place for climbers of all ages and abilities.

“You Can See the Tree for the Forest” is a commission for the neonatal wing of a large hospital. They requested that the artwork have the four seasons, trees, lots of colors, and fit in a 5 x 14 foot niche. The center summer panel is the most symbolic. The small tree is the neonatal patient, with two joined parent trees around it making a womb-like space, which is echoed by the curve of the trees in spring and fall closest to the summer edges.

The large violet tree represents the children’s hospital which has a long and important history. The other trees represent hospital staff. The care for the neonatal patient requires all of these people to work together (which inspired the title). I wanted to make the artwork colorful and fun, but also have an element of contemplation for the families of the neonatal patients.

“Welcome Communication” is a triptych commissioned by the Utah Public Art Program. It hangs in the reception area of the Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Taylorsville, Utah. I learned sign language when I was a cartographer, and supervised deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing cartographers. I was delighted to be able to use my knowledge of this wonderful, expressive language again for this project.  This was my first large public art commission, which was quite a challenge but so satisfying to complete!


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