Quilts Hold Memories
The quilt is a 80 inch x 60 inch, dyed-painted, textile wall quilt. "Sahel" was selected as one of the 20th Century's Best American Quilts.
"It's always a little bit like photography where you really hope it's gonna work out as you planned it," Hollis says. "Technically, this has no piecing and no appliqué in it at all. It is a totally dyed-painted quilt. So it's one piece of cloth that's white when I start, and I paint it with very small brushes using thickened dyes. Once the dyes have cured, I wash the dyes out and I machine quilt it. I have about 450 different colors of threads, and I use them in all my quilts. That is what gives the effect of depth to the quilt changing the color of thread all the time.
"Once I have finished the drawing and it is actually on the fabric, I start painting, and working very long hours. I paint non-stop, if I can, until it's finished if the humidity changes, your dyes change on you. So I work seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, until it's finished. This one took me about three months."
Hollis went to Africa in 1980 as a Peace Corps volunteer. She ended up spending many years there. She just returned in 1996. Her time in Africa has been the inspiration and theme for most of her quilts.
"I would like very much in my work to show the beauty of Africa and the joy of Africa because we only see the negative things of Africa," Hollis explains.