A Tribute to Joan Wasser Robinson

by Vikki Pignatelli

I met Joan Wasser Robinson on Quiltart not too long after it was formed in 1995. She responded to a question I'd posted and we began to e-mail each other privately. Thus began an on-line friendship that lasted five years until Joan's untimely death in July, 2000.

When you correspond with a person frequently, as we did, you learn their deepest joys, fears and concerns. You learn who they are deep down inside. Joan was totally devoted to her God and her Church. She loved singing in the choir and found much joy in the music. She lived her faith by helping others, volunteering at A Safe Place, helping victims of domestic violence. She felt very strongly about this subject, stemming from unhappy childhood memories.

Joan was devoted to her family. Our posts were filled with family joys and concerns. She had a great tradition...setting aside a "granny day" each week, when she would spend the entire day alone with each grandchild in turn, taking him or her to the park or museums.

Joan was a loyal and generous friend, willing to help out whenever she could. One of the posts Joan sent me contains a beautiful passage that is not only a wonderful insight to the kind of person she was, but applies to all of us as quilters and artists. We were discussing our quilts as a personal progression of work. These are Joan's words:

"I was referring to the progression in your quilt designs. Not that your whole body of work is a "series", but I'm sure if you look at your work, from Quilt #1 to the present, you will see a progression. From the first quilt you made to the last.

"Through all these quilts runs a thread (pun intended) of your exploration of yourself, your soul, your quilting skills, your creativity, your experience. They are a reflection of your life. Perhaps this is too philosophical, but I believe that the work we do reflects the way we are--the beginning, the growing, the stretching, the becoming, what we are doing now, and what we plan to do in the future."

Joan will be dearly missed by those who shared her friendship.

Vikki Pignatelli

"Then and Now" 1998
23 1/2" x 34"
Joan Wasser Robinson

"Then" represents the silent prison of pain. The inward-looking figure is surrounded by danger, not knowing what form the next would will take.

The red slash represents the fire through which an abused person must go in order to heal. Remembering, searching struggling, looking for a way out -- are all part of this painful process.

"Now shows the healed person, self-esteem restored, dancing in color, freed from the prison. The quilting continues the theme, going from stabbing straight lines through flames to the flowing lines of freedom.

The two figures are hand-appliqued; the piecing and quilting are done by machine.


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