Textile Traditions: The Quilts of Stanley and Dorothy Rankin

Avid quilters, Stanley Rankin and his mother, Dorothy, created a multitude of beautiful, imaginative, and colorful quilts. Some are traditional, while other are purely works of textile art. 

Stan and Dorothy’s mutual love of quilts brought them to the Museum of the Grand Prairie (then known as the Early American Museum). They spent many hours as volunteers working on the statewide Illinois Quilt Research Project. Beginning in 1986, the museum and Land of Lincoln Quilt Association documented over 17,000 quilts produced or owned in Illinois. Today, that treasure trove of quilt data resides at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

Stan and Dorothy quilted for the sheer joy and camaraderie of creating. Stan's niece recalls that he and his mother would complete a quilt and then just tuck it safely away. The completion of the work of art was enough for them: they neither needed to use or show them.  Stan and Dorothy's textile traditions are a testament not only to the art of quilting, but also to the power of family. 

What follows in a brief exploration of their craft.


Photos courtesy of Jennifer Misuzu Gunji-Ballsrud. Photography by Charles Hannon.