French writer Marcel Proust’s landmark novel In Search of Lost Time (previously translated as Remembrance of Things Past) focuses on memory. Specifically, Proust coined the term “involuntary memory” in his seven-part novel to explain the sudden and inescapable feeling of recollection based on a sensory experience. The smell of cut grass might transport you back to summer camp. The taste of coffee cake can recall Christmas morning. The softness of an animal’s fur can feel like a beloved childhood pet.
But as Proust explores in his book, those involuntary memories are not perceived in the same ways as those memories we voluntarily and purposefully store away.
In her quilt “But, I Tried to Remember,” artist Heidi Parkes physically visualizes the way that some events, from the personal to the global, are more complex and nuanced than our memories allow us to access. Creating a hazy layer on top of her quilt’s fabric allows us to consider how both our personal memories and our understanding of history can be flawed. And at the same time, how some memories can be beautiful and comforting—exactly like a quilt.
Additional Quilt Information:
Materials Mixed fabrics, cotton batting, cotton thread
Technique Wholecloth with cut fabric, hand quilted
Dimensions 91 x 92 inches