Chinese Souls #2

Nancy Crow (American, 1943-)

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Artist’s Statement

Chinese Souls quilts are my memorial to more than 60 teenage boys who were bound and loaded on two trucks to be driven to their execution for petty crimes. I witnessed this horrible incident when I was an exchange artist in China in September 1990. The boys were all wrapped with heavy ropes. In these quilts, the circles represent their souls and the bull’s-eye embroidery and the hand-quilting represents the ropes tied around their souls. The colors of the circles represent the individuals. I have always felt there is an eerie energy that radiates out fro the surface of each of these quilts.

-Nancy Crow

Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

In September 1990, while taking part in an artist exchange program in China, Nancy Crow saw two trucks go by, laden with boys and young men bound in heavy ropes. As a deterrent to others, the youths were being driven around the city of Xian before being executed for petty crimes. Crow responded to this horrifying incident by creating a series of ten memorial quilts titled Chinese Souls. The circles and colors represent the more than sixty teenage boys and their souls; the bull's-eye hand-embroidery and hand-quilting symbolize the ropes that bound their spirits as well as their bodies.

Crow's originality and strong sense of color and design have resulted in a body of work that is as innovative as it is visually compelling. The circular motifs and rich gradation of tints were produced by tie-dyeing. The multihued embroidery threads are worked in spirals, which add movement and radiate energy from within the circles. Chinese Souls #2, with its striking combinations of deep, saturated colors, boldly graphic patterns, and forceful political and social message, is a superb example of the emotional texture of Crow's work.

[This] series of quilts was very, very emotional for me and it had a reason for being.
-Nancy Crow, 2002

Nancy Crow; purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art (1996).

Object Information

Nancy Crow (American, 1943-)
creation date
resist dyed fabrics, embroidered, machine pieced and quilted
(dyed by Nancy Crow and resist-dyed by Lunn Fabrics; embroidered by Nancy Crow, Marla Hattabaugh, Suzanne Keller and Maria Magisano; machine-pieced by Nancy Crow; quilted by Marla Hattabaugh with pattern denoted by Nancy Crow)
6'9" x 7'5" in.
accession number
credit line
Mary V. Black Art Endowment Fund
© Nancy Crow
Textile and Fashion Arts

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