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Form Not Function Honorific

This afternoon I got a call from Karen Gillenwater at the Carnegie Center. My piece Insane Asylum won Best of Show!

I’m still so excited I can hardly sit still.

Here it is:


Interestingly enough–it was rejected from Quilt National 09. It seems I have the best success when I enter something on a whim, selecting the best work I have at the time and then just not worrying about it. I am still on Cloud 9 thinking about all the other much more recognized artists than I whose pieces are next to mine. I truly felt honored to have a piece in the show. Unfortunately I won’t be at the opening as I have to be at work that day and Indiana is a far distance from Texas but I’ve been promised photos of the installation and the show catalog.

Here is the information on the back of the quilt.


The Insane Asylum was a refuge for poor and those with illness. Frequently families would drop off family members for respite care. The insane Asylum was self-sufficient for many years with a dairy and farm providing produce. Brick-making was another industry along with other masonry works. Those who could work were expected to work either in the fields or in the hospital or the brick-making ovens. Records of those buried first in the cemetery have been lost, but the males are located on one side and the females on the other. Names were included when the family paid for such a luxury. Treatment of psychiatric patients was not easy as there was little known about diseases of the mind. Assorted lobotomies and other surgical procedures were developed here. The insane asylum closed in the 1970’s as part of cost-cutting and the development of new antipsychiatric medications and treatments that permitted former psychiatric patients to live a fairly normal lifestyle. Some of the old buildings were converted to other uses but there remains the thought that ghosts walk the grounds.


The bricks around the old Dairy Barn are laid in a random pattern, some are facing upwards, others are just bits and pieces. The masonry fence around the Asylum contains majestic columns connected by piping. Some appear intact but have significant structural problems when inspected closely. People, too, seem to be intact and without problems until their life is viewed closely. It is only the luck of the draw whether our ‘bricks’ are placed correctly or on the side or just pieces and bits remain.


My thanks to the researchers who patiently combed the archives of the infirmary records to provide an on-line resource and to all those dedicated workers of the past who provided a touch of humanity and dignity to the least of our brothers.


5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Congratulations to you. It’s wonderful

    January 7, 2009
  2. Sylvia, what a beautiful piece, and a well deserved honor. Congratulations!

    January 7, 2009
  3. Mary Ann #

    Congratulations, Sylvia. It looks beautiful, but I wish it would enlarge so I could see it in more detail.

    January 8, 2009
  4. Ruthie #

    Sylvia, Congratulations!

    January 27, 2009
  5. This is a wonderful piece. Congratulations!

    February 22, 2009

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