75th-Anniversary Quilt Illustrates TVA History
A quilt commemorating TVA's 75 anniversary was unveiled at the TVA Board meeting May 19, 2008, in Muscle Shoals, Ala. The quilt features 24 squares depicting milestones and historical highlights in TVA's history.
It was created by the owners of Creative Quilts − Darlene Bakos of Maryville, Tenn., and Debbie McMurray of Alcoa, Tenn.
“We found very few quilters who work with photographs,” says Katie Bell, senior manager of Community Relations. “And the quality of Debbie’s and Darlene’s work is outstanding. The back of the quilt is as beautiful as the front.”
Bell led the effort to plan activities to celebrate TVA’s 75th anniversary and was assisted by others, including Pat Ezzell, TVA historian.
Bell and Ezzell settled on a Sawtooth Star pattern from among three patterns suggested by Bakos and McMurray.
The Sawtooth Star is a traditional quilt pattern. Each block consists of a center square surrounded by right-angle triangles. There are 24 squares in the TVA quilt with images from a mix of historic and contemporary TVA photographs. The images are placed in the center of each square. The quilt’s middle square has the TVA logo.
The quilt was designed to celebrate TVA’s legacy by using a traditional art form from the region that TVA serves.
Enlarged image of the quilt
Then click on any of the 24 picture squares for enlarged images of the pictures in the quilt. Scroll down for a description below the pictures.
Other quilts have helped tell TVA’s story
Other quilts have been important to TVA’s past − such as those created by the wives of African-American construction workers at Wheeler and Pickwick dams who often met to do needlework and socialize.
Ruth Clement Bond, wife of the highest ranking African-American official at TVA in the 1930s, met with these women. The result was a quilt called “Uncle Sam’s Helping Hand,” which Bond designed and that was quilted by Rosie Lee Cooper, wife of a TVA employee, in 1934. This quilt is currently displayed in the West Tower Lobby of TVA’s Knoxville Office Complex.
Bond said her quilt helped tell the story of what was happening for the black workers on the construction sites for TVA dams. Bond and the other wives of TVA workers were excited about the new opportunities available to them and their families, and they often created their quilt designs to reflect these opportunities.
Later, when TVA built the Chattanooga Office Complex, efforts were made to promote the artists of the Tennessee Valley by displaying their artwork in the buildings. One result of that effort is the “Mountain Quiltscape,” which hangs today in the atrium of the Signal Place Building in Chattanooga. It was stitched by 23 women members of Crazyquilt, a crafts shop in Newcomb, Tenn., and has been displayed in Signal Place since the mid 1980s.
“We thought it made sense to continue this tradition of highlighting quilts as a regional art form to help commemorate TVA’s 75th anniversary,” says Pat Ezzell.