The American barn quilt movement that started in Adams County, Ohio in 2001 has swept across forty eight states in the country, becoming the largest grassroots public art movement in America.
Barn quilt inventor, Donna Sue Groves, never set out to become famous, she set out to honor her mother, a master quilter, by beautifying their family tobacco barn. Since painting the first barn quilt in 2001, Groves has been eager to assist other communities with their own quilts: “It’s made people happy. It’s made me happy. We all become a part of a team. We are weaving this fiber and bringing people together.”
Connecting to heritage
The uniquely designed paintings are a way to draw attention to a community’s agricultural heritage of farming and quilting.
“Although society has changed, the barn of today shelters the livestock and their needs as the quilt continues to warm the hearts and souls of the residents. The blocks have been chosen with care and attention to what the particular block means to the family as did the design of the barn at the time it was built many years ago.” — Butler County, IA Barn Quilts
What’s the secret to their success?
Many associations have sprung up to support the proliferation of the quilts. From offering financial assistance for wood and painting supplies to actually doing the installation, there is a growing community to support anyone interested in being a part of this grassroots public art movement.
Because of the encouragement from so many people across various communities, there is now a quilt trail running throughout nearly every state in the country. Those who travel the trails are able to see a wide variety of colorful quilt blocks on barns and other farm buildings. If you need any help knowing where to look, you’ll be happy to know that many city and county governments supply maps to help you on your way.
Want to learn more?
Check out this interview with Suzi Parron, author of Barn Quilts and the American Barn Quilt Movement. The barn quilt movement has also been featured on PBS and more recently on the reality television show, Making It.