Terrie Mangat


Terrie Hancock Mangat.jpg
Terrie Hancock Mangat 2.jpg


Terrie Mangat


The Uncommon Threads QSOS




Terrie Mangat


Gayle Pritchard

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Taos, New Mexico


Kim Greene


Note: This interview was not conducted as a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview. However, we felt that the spirit of the interview and the valuable information shared warranted inclusion into the project.

Terrie Hancock Mangat (TM): Hello.

Gayle Pritchard (GP): Terri?

TM: Yes.

GP: Hi, it is Gayle. Is this a better time?

TM: Yes, let's just go through this, as much as we can and then I--if I think of more stuff later I can email it to you.

GP: Sure, and, you know what, I have a lot of--I have a file on you. I have articles printed out and I have the information from your website.

TM: You have a lot of stuff already.

GP: Yes, I don't want to waste time going over basics. I guess to start with, was there anything that jumped out at you? I mean, I have your basic bio. I have where you were born, and I have sort of a timeline based on the information that I have gathered. Before I run through, were there any questions that jumped out at you that you had anything particular that you wanted to comment on?

TM: I started jotting down some things as I went through the questions. You want to go over the questions and I will tell you what I thought of as I went through them, or do you want me to--

GP: Sure, that would be fine. Let's do that.

TM: If I think of anything else I will let you know.

GP: That is fine. I know you are busy, so I appreciate--

TM: I don't mind taking the time. We can spend as much time--I have until 3:00.

GP: Well, I know there were a lot of questions. I know you were born in Kentucky. What year were you born?

TM: I was born in 1948.

GP: It sounds like you came to Ohio into the Cincinnati area after you were living in Oklahoma City, is that right?

TM: Yes, that is right. I have a real history of Cincinnati. Both of my parents had warehouses on the riverfront in Cincinnati when I was a little girl.

GP: Oh, is that right?

TM: I use to go over there, like my grandpa, my dad's dad had a grocery warehouse and my mother's father owned Saalfeld Paper Company and they were on Vine Street in downtown Cincinnati, and so I used to go over there to my grandfather's offices, both. That is how my parents met, but they both grew up in Kentucky, but they all had business in Cincinnati.

GP: How far away was that from where you grew up? Is it right on the border?

TM: About ten miles or fifteen miles or something like that.

GP: So, it really is right on the border?

TM: Right on the border. I grew up right on the border of Cincinnati. I was in and out of Cincinnati all my whole life.

GP: I liked one of the descriptions I read where it talked about growing up in Kentucky but also essentially in the Midwest, you kind of had the Mason Dixon line right there. It is interesting. How do you think of yourself? Do you think of yourself as a Kentuckian, someone from New Mexico now? How do you feel?

TM: If somebody asked me, I would call myself a Kentuckian who lives in New Mexico. [laughs.]

GP: [laughs.] Okay.

TM: When I lived in Ohio I was a Kentuckian who lives in Ohio.

GP: [laughs.] Well, my guess is, too, I always lived in northern Ohio, and I was born in northwestern Ohio, so my sense of Cincinnati is that it was totally a different part of the state in that regard.

TM: Oh, it is totally different than the north part. It is the southern part.

GP: It sounds like maybe you had similar experience to Jane Birch Cochran then in terms of crossing the river.

TM: Yes, exactly.

GP: Going back and forth. Did you have--

TM: Jane and I shared a studio. She wasn't making quilts when I first knew her. She was painting and she actually started making quilts from watching me. She didn't tell you that.

GP: Well, I haven't had a chance to interview her yet. We have been emailing and trying to set up a time.

TM: Okay.

GP: That is cool. It sounds like when you started making quilts that you were still doing pottery and printmaking at the same time. Is that right?

TM: Yes. I started making quilts right when I got out of college, and I had majored in printmaking and ceramics. I was a potter, and I still did prints whenever I could, but I didn't have the facility.

GP: Right, that was a problem back then. With the printmaking, were you doing primarily silk screening stuff?

TM: In college I did a lot of lithographic printing, and then I did some silk screen printing, and then later I started silk screen printing on fabric.

GP: Which you are still doing now, right?

TM: I am doing that now, right.

GP: Do you feel like you belong to any sort of ethnic group at all?

TM: I would say if I belong to any group it would be the descendants of the German immigrants who came to Cincinnati. That is what my mom's family, the Saalfelds.

GP: What was their name?

TM: It is S-A-A-L-F-E-L-D.

GP: Saalfeld.

TM: My grandfather started a paper company in his living room in actually Covington, Kentucky and then moved across the river to Cincinnati and had nine kids. So, I have a lot of Saalfeld cousins.

GP: Do you feel like that impacted your work at all, that background?

TM: I think what impacted my work more was Kentucky.

GP: How?

TM: Just my college education and my exposure there. It is more of a southern exposure than what you would get in Ohio.

GP: Did you have quilts growing up? In something I read it talked about that you certainly were familiar with them from living in Kentucky. Did you have family quilters?

TM: We didn't. I only remember one quilt in our household, when I was a little girl, a butterfly quilt that both my sister and I really wanted. Each one wanted it. That was the only quilt that I remember.

GP: Did someone in your family make it, or you don't know?

TM: I don't know where it came from and quilts weren't a big deal, but fabric was a big deal to me. I asked for fabric for Christmas when I was six years old. I remember when I was five I took crayons and I started drawing fabric designs on a white sheet and cut it out and made a doll dress for my doll. Then I asked my mom if I could have some fabric for Christmas so I could make doll clothes for my dolls. So, I was interested in fabric right when I was really little.

GP: From the get-go. When you went to college, though, it doesn't sound like you had the opportunity to do anything with fabric, or maybe it didn't occur to you.

TM: No. I did opt to take a textile class in the Home Economics Department when I was in college, I think when I was a junior, and they taught us about fibers, and it was more of--

GP: Technical like grain, fabric grain and stuff?

TM: Grain and all that, and then I also took a textile class with, it was a woman teaching when I was a senior, there was a woman teaching a textile class that was--her name was Deborah Hall, I think that was her name, her first name was Deborah, I can't, maybe her last name was something different. I remember I went to school, we would go there an embroider and do rug hooking and all that, so I did have one textile class in college, but it was pooh-poohed as an art form when I was in college.

GP: And you never got sucked into weaving at that point either?

TM: I took weaving for the first time when I was nineteen at Penland School. So, I did learn how to weave when I was in college, but it was in the summer time. I had a scholarship to Penland School for the summer.

GP: How did you start making quilts? What got you going?

TM: I had a friend named Susan Clay, who had these amazing traditional Kentucky quilts, and I asked her where she got them and she got them, she got these tops from this woman named Mrs. Earl Clay who lives in Carlisle, Kentucky.

GP: Were they related?

TM: No, they weren't related. I went over there to see Mrs. Clay with Susan, and I bought some tops from her for twenty-five dollars, but the tops that were still available then weren't as good. Susan Clay had bought all the really, really most excellent ones.

GP: So, the tops you bought were the ones that Mrs. Clay had made.

TM: Right. She pieced these tops, and she pieced them--what made me want to make quilts was how she put fabric together. She used the most bizarre stuff and put it all next to each other. She broke all the rules of what, like stripes and dots and all that. She used men's underwear fabric from the local boxer short factory in town. I'm telling you! I had at one time, I don't think I still have it, I had a quilt that was all men's boxer short fabrics, and it was incredible. That, putting that weirdo stuff next to each other is what made me want to make quilts.

GP: Were they string quilts?

TM: They were traditional patterns. They were Around the World, mostly. Let's see, what other ones? A lot of Around the World. There were some other traditional quilts.

GP: Was she an older woman?

TM: She was an older woman. She, later…I used to go to visit her all the time until she died. She got Parkinson's disease, so toward the end she couldn't really make quilts.

GP: Did she actually show you how to piece quilts or, you just were inspired by the ones she had done?

TM: She didn't teach me anything, I don't think.

GP: So, when you started--

TM: She might have taught me how to, when you're piecing hexagons, how you take a double stitch before you turn it, she might have taught me something like that. I got my quilter from her, Sue Rule who has quilted a major part of my work, she lives also lives in Carlisle, and I met Sue Rule from Mrs. Earl Clay.

GP: Was she an older woman also?

TM: Yes. She is still living. She is eighty-eight now I think. She quit quilting about two years ago. I got her--the last quilt, I got her to quilt for me.

GP: Uh oh. So now what are you doing?

TM: Well, now I just found this fabulous group of women who quilt on Fridays at the Martinez Hacienda. They've got one of my quilts on their frame right now.

GP: Great. So, you didn't end up stranded. That's good.

TM: For a while I was thinking--some of my quilts I have quilted with embroidery thread with big stitches myself, and that is also something I do, but I like to have the traditional quilting on them.

GP: Do you mark out the designs for them, or do you just let them go at it?

TM: I mostly follow the piecing, but on occasion, like some of the ones that just have a big piece of fabric for the sky or something, draw lines with a greaseless pencil and have Sue quilt on the lines.

GP: When you actually started making them yourself, it sounds like you already knew how to sew because you were making--

TM: I took sewing. My mother didn't sew and obviously I showed an interest in sewing right from the get-go, so she sent me to Singer sewing lessons when I was eleven.

GP: Wow. So, you really learned.

TM: I made a dress. I made my first dress for myself when I was eleven.

GP: When it came time to say, 'hey I want to make a quilt', you just sat down and made one basically?

TM: I started, in my early quilts, I started doing reverse appliqué, but I just looked at molas and kind of figured out how to do it. I have my own technique about it.

GP: Right, well that is what I mean. You weren't sitting there with someone else. You just said, 'well, I basically know how to sew, so let me figure out how to put this together, what I want to do," is what it sounds like.

TM: Yes.

GP: Were you already married then when you started making quilts, right out of school, or?

TM: Yes, I was. I got married in 1970.

GP: It sounds like you guys lived in a pretty rural area for a while.

TM: We did. We lived on Airdrie Farm, which is the farm that is owned by Brereton Jones. He was once the governor of Kentucky. We rented a gardener's cottage there. That was where I lived when I made my first quilt.

GP: Is that where your son was born as well?

TM: No, we moved to Iowa after my husband graduated from medical school, and my son was born in Iowa City.

GP: That was before you moved to Oklahoma?

TM: That was before. Then we moved back to Kentucky for one year, and then we moved to Oklahoma.

GP: When you were originally pursuing whatever artwork you were doing early on, did you feel cut off, isolated? How did that work? You had a family; how did you make your way at that time?

TM: I would just work, and I wasn't really too concerned with exhibiting when I was raising a family. I was just…sometimes I would, maybe. I was very concerned with exhibiting, I remember, when I was a senior in college, because I sent a print to a national show in Minot, North Dakota. I was really excited to get into a national show, so I know it was important to me at that time. But when I had Kishen, I don't remember being very concerned with exhibiting. I just would sew and make quilts, do what I could. Actually, I remember why I started exhibiting. When I lived in Oklahoma City I was a potter, and I built a kiln in my back yard. I met this friend who was an artist, and one day she came over; she was also a potter but we both did kind of mixed media art. Her name was Shelley Horton Trippe, and she said--I was showing her this quilt that I had been kind of dragging around in a box for a couple of years, and she said, 'Oh my god, these quilts are fantastic, why aren't you exhibiting them,' and that is when--she is the one who talked me into submitting my work. They were looking at artwork for the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building when it was being built, and I submitted some slides of a giraffe quilt that I had made.

GP: Is that the same one that was in Quilt National, the giraffe one?

TM: Yes, that one. It was really early work. I think that was made in 1978 or '76 or something like that. So, they selected my work for the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, but they wanted something that was more local to Oklahoma, so they asked me to make a special Oklahoma quilt, which I did, and it was in that building when it got bombed.

GP: Yes, it was so weird, because I had all these old back issues of Quilters' Newsletter [Magazine.], and read about the story you just told me, and then was reading through an art quilt magazine from the nineties, and I saw that you were in that show also after the bombing and made that wonderful quilt, and it was so like, oh my god, that was, it was weird to read the Quilters' Newsletter article about it, knowing, already knowing what was going to happen.

TM: I know.

GP: Just incredible.

TM: Yes, it is. But that quilt survived the bombing.

GP: I couldn't believe it.

TM: It is in the archives now, which is kind of fun.

GP: Yes. That is pretty--it is kind of creepy, but it is also kind of cool.

TM: I got a card with a picture of me with Joan Mondale. She came for the ribbon cutting for that building, and I got this in 2004. They used a picture, there is a picture of me on the cover of the invitation that they sent for this memorial thing that they did.

GP: That would be neat to include. It doesn't sound like from what you are saying that isolation or loneliness or any of that stuff was an issue for you early on.

TM: It wasn't. It is more now than it was then.

GP: Why do you feel like it is now?

TM: Well, when I was, I mean--

GP: I'm assuming your son is grown. I don't know if you remarried or not, but--

TM: No. I live alone up in the mountains. I know some traditional quilters here. My quilting friends live in Santa Fe.

GP: How far away is that for you?

TM: It is about an hour, so I see them, so that is not too isolated, but everyday working right now it is kind of alone here. It is hard for me to discipline myself to stay home and work because I get--actually I'm going to move to town next year because I feel too isolated here. I think it will be easier to do my work when I can just walk out the door and go see some friends.

GP: Yes, take a break, see some people and then go back in.

TM: Right.

GP: Instead of having to make like a day trip somewhere to meet people.

TM: Right now, I live on a really difficult road fifteen miles from town. It is hard. It takes a big chunk out of your day to go see anybody.

GP: Is that where your studio is, too?

TM: Yes, that is where my studio is.

GP: So, if you move into town, what will you do with that?

TM: I'm actually buying a historical building that was owned by B. Mandelmen and Louis Rybeck who are known for starting the Taos Modernist Movement, and there are two studios in that house. So, I will have studio space there, but not as much. I have a lot of studio space right now.

GP: It looks like it from the pictures on your website.

TM: Yes. It is going to be really hard to give up the space.

GP: You said that you met Jane [Burch Cochran.] early on. Did you know any of the other people? Did you know Elaine Plogman or any of the other people in Cincinnati early on?

TM: I knew Elaine Plogman real early. I knew Nancy Crow and--do you know Françoise Barnes?

GP: I don't know her. In fact, I'm trying to track her down as well.

TM: She is in Albuquerque.

GP: I think my husband found her phone number, and I'm going to try putting a call into her to see if it is the right person, because you and Françoise and Jane were the last people. I have been working on this book for about a year and it just took me that long to find everybody. They are kind of the last two important people that I need to talk to. I was just wondering who you met early on and what the scene was like back then, how you remember it.

TM: Actually, it was fun. I started making quilts.

GP: In the early seventies, right?

TM: Yes, pretty much in the seventies, but I wasn't--it was kind of slow, just slowly working on quilts for myself. I didn't start exhibiting anything until about seventy-eight probably.

GP: Where did you exhibit before the first Quilt National?

TM: That was.

GP: That was in seventy-nine.

TM: That was probably around the first thing that I, that might have been the first thing that I exhibited was at the Quilt National.

GP: Did you go to the opening?

TM: I did.

GP: You would have met new people then, and you must have known Elaine [Plogman.] by then.

TM: I knew Elaine, and I knew, let's see, I don't think Jane was making quilts yet then. She was doing beaded canvas pieces; they were kind of textiley, but not quilts. Then I met Nancy Crow there, I met Françoise [Barnes], and I'm trying to think who else I met early on. God, that was so long ago.

GP: Getting longer and longer ago isn't it. [laughs.]

TM: I had a friend in Oklahoma City who influenced me in quiltmaking also. Her name is Martha Ellen Green, and when I lived in Oklahoma City she used to do a lot of textile kind of pieces, and she embellished a lot and embroidered, and I didn't. That was before I put embroidery or embellishment on my quilts, and I was resistant to that, and I didn't start embellishing until after I left Oklahoma City. In a way, I didn't want to follow her. I can remember she did a blue jean jacket for me, and I said, 'don't put any embellishments on it, I just want it plain embroidery.'

GP: [laughs.]

TM: Which is kind of funny, because then later I started embellishing and I started really getting into it, but--

GP: You probably were the first, really the first person doing that. I can't think of anybody else that I have talked to.

TM: I was, I was the first one to embellish, but it came to me after, it sort of absorbed into my system from Martha Ellen Green.

GP: So, one day you are working on a piece, and you thought, man it needs something, or?

TM: That is what happened. I was working on my "Deer Dancer Quilt", which I made in the early eighties, eighty-three is when I finished it in 1983, and I decided to put sequins on the center field because I felt like it needed that mark on it. That is when I started embellishing.

GP: Interesting. Are there artists, historical artists or otherwise--who are your favorite artists if you just think out there, painters or otherwise?

TM: When I was in college I really liked, like when I was in high school, I liked Toulouse Lautrec, in college I liked [Robert.] Rauschenberg a lot. I think you can see some influence in my work from Rauschenberg. I like crazy quilts. I was highly influenced by crazy quilts and scrap-bag quilts.

GP: Just from ones that you had seen?

TM: Yes, just from ones that I had seen. My whole beginning of quiltmaking came from traditional Kentucky quiltmaking. Just out in the country, liking the way that the fabrics went together and what happened with them. Then as far as art goes, I like the Impressionists. I'm trying to think who else influenced--some of my thoughts on art were also influenced by my teachers in college, my pottery teacher, John Tuska, about form and it also transfers over into quiltmaking.

GP: In terms of surfaces or how do you feel like it translated over?

TM: Like I remember he said, if your pot has a strong lip and a strong foot, what happens in between will be fine. That definitely influenced me. I remember I was on my farm quilt, the quilt that was the map of a farm, it is called, "Shrine to the Beginning." In fact, on that quilt, I didn't have those big blue canvas morning glories on it in the beginning. I actually had the quilt already quilted, and I'm looking at it and I'm thinking, man, this has a really weak lip, and so I said, it needs a stronger top, so I painted on canvas the big blue--

GP: The morning glories?

TM: The morning glories; and I sewed them on there and then to me it worked. So that was definitely from thinking about stuff that I learned from John Tuska.

GP: Interesting. Did you know Wenda Von Weise?

TM: I knew of her, but I don't think I ever met her.

GP: I was just curious if you did.

TM: I remember knowing of her at the time, like a long time before she died. But I don't recall meeting her.

GP: Well, you may not have. She died in the early eighties. I just was curious when you mentioned Rauschenberg because, well, she wasn't into the embellishing, she was into the photo processes, but also felt really influenced by Rauschenberg.

TM: I did have some photo processes in some of my early quilts.

GP: Like the giraffe quilt, for example? It was screened, right?

TM: Actually, there is no photo process. The whole middle panel is from Africa.

GP: Oh, okay. So that was printed fabric that you…

TM: That I bought when I was traveling in Africa. But there are other pieces, like there is a piece called, "Glitter Cowboy" that is a really early piece of work. It has my son on a horse. That has photo silk screen printed panels in it, and the "Dashboard Saints" has photo transfers of Holy cards in it.

GP: I love that quilt. Well, of course, everybody loves that quilt. I have a poster of it in my studio right now as I'm sitting here. I love that piece. So, you think probably Quilt National was the first exhibition that you even saw?

TM: Yes, that ever saw my work.

GP: Had you seen quilt shows before then?

TM: I hadn't really seen any art quilt shows. I saw, well, I saw that catalogue from the one--oh, what's his name? The guy that really brought quilts forward.

GP: The Whitney, Jonathan Holstein?

TM: Jonathan Holstein, I saw that book.

GP: You saw the catalogue, but you didn't see the show?

TM: I didn't see the show.

GP: It is so weird, everything I read, because I was born in '57, so I'm younger than you are-- Everything I read talks about the impact of that show, and I have yet to interview anybody who saw it. [laughs.] But at least you saw the catalogue.

TM: I saw the catalogue.

GP: Interesting. Do you feel like you had specific goals at the beginning in your work, stuff that you were trying to accomplish, or isn't that how you work?

TM: My goal was to…my quilts right from the beginning were about ideas and my goal was to finish the quilt and express the idea.

GP: What do you think the common thread is, then, in your work? I mean, how would you describe it? I know what I can say about it, but as if you sat there and looked at a projection screen of all of your work, what do you think is the common thread in it?

TM: It is the fabrics. It is the imagery of the fabric, and the colors, and the scale of imagery is an important thing.

GP: How do you distinguish between pictorial work and narrative work, and would you apply either of those terms to your own work?

TM: Probably narrative is actually more of an appropriate term for my work, because a lot of times it is not that pictorial, it expresses ideas.

GP: I guess I'm trying to--I had this conversation with Nancy Crow, and I'm trying to even, I guess, completely understand what the difference is. So, you think the work that is called narrative work has more content versus work that would be described as pictorial?

TM: Yes, I would think that narrative really sort of tells something.

GP: A visual story.

TM: A visual story and pictorial is more like a representation of a scene or something.

GP: Do you think narrative work--I'm trying to think if I look at your work and Jane's [Burch Cochran] work and Susie's [Shie.] work, I would describe them all as narrative, then, with that classification and they are all more based on appliqué techniques then they are on piecing techniques. Do you think that comes into play in creating narrative work?

TM: Would you say that again?

GP: They seem to be based, in terms of technique, on appliqué techniques versus piecing techniques.

TM: My work is a mix of piecing and appliqué, or reverse appliqué. I wouldn't eliminate piecing from mine.

GP: I guess my question is if you think narrative work could be created from something that is strictly pieced or geometric?

TM: Yes, it could be. I mean it could be.

GP: I was just curious. I was listening to this morning to my interview with Nancy Crow where we had this whole conversation, so I thought I would ask you.

TM: What did Nancy say about it?

GP: Well, because her work is so geometric, I was in her studio--

TM: Did she call her work narrative?

GP: Well, no, no. That is not what her work is really about, other than a few specific pieces that she mentioned, but we were in her studio, and she pointed to one of her pieces, one of her pieces that is about the barn where she works, so we were having this conversation about whether that work could be called narrative or not, and neither of us really knew. [laughs.] So, I just thought I would ask.

TM: It probably is my opinion, and it could be narrative.

GP: Well, that is interesting.

TM: I have some firework quilts that are pieced. They are very abstract, and I still in a way consider those narrative.

GP: That makes sense.

TM: Because they are about watching the fireworks.

GP: They are telling a story without a strict pictorial presentation.

TM: Right.

GP: Okay that makes sense. Thanks. [laughs.]

TM: [laughs.]

GP: I wanted to just talk briefly about the time period when you are working, you were in school at the end of the sixties.

TM: I graduated from high school in '66 and I graduated from college in '70.

GP: So, do you feel like the time period you grew up and do you feel like that impacted you at all, or your work?

TM: Oh, yes, for sure it did. I was doing protesting at the university, the hippy thing. There is a whole textile side to that. But I would say more of an influence was just getting to know Mrs. Clay and the whole Kentucky quiltmaking thing. It totally intrigued me.

GP: How about the feminist movement or any of that stuff? Do you feel like that impacted…

TM: I don't remember thinking much about feminist movements when I was that age.

GP: Okay. [laughs.] That is fair.

TM: I got married when I was twenty-two, and all I remember is that there were very few women in my husband's medical class, and now it is like fifty percent are women. Then out of eighty-five there were fifteen.

GP: Well, the reason I ask, again is because I'm trying not to be clichéd about the time period. For people who grew up in it, you have one experience; for people who learn about it in school, the stereotypes and the clichés are there. Everybody wasn't out there protesting, but a lot of people were, and everybody wasn't impacted by--

TM: I'll tell you, though, I was protesting for myself, not as a group of women, but I got a job teaching art right out of college, and I remember protesting because men could wear pants and women couldn't, and I had to get on the floor when I was teaching art. I was the first woman where I taught to wear pants, and so then they changed the rule and let us wear pantsuits, the women wear pantsuits. Before I made a big stink about that, all the women had to wear dresses to teach in.

GP: Even in the art department? Wow.

TM: I had to wear dresses, and I said, 'I can't, I need to wear pants.' So, I was allowed to wear pantsuits then, and then all the women teachers were allowed to wear pantsuits.

GP: Was this at the University of Kentucky, also?

TM: That was at the Lexington School, a private school where I taught art. I taught art to grades one through nine for three years. So, I did a lot of sort of feminist things there in a way, because then I found out…In fact, the first year I taught there my salary was two thousand eight hundred dollars, and my second year they gave me a hundred dollar raise, and the third year. Meantime I found out what the men teachers made, and I was doing a huge art show at the end of the year and spending tons of time. I was an excellent teacher. So, when he offered me another hundred dollar raise, I looked at him and I said, 'I want a thousand dollar raise or else I'm not teaching here next year.' He gave it to me without blinking an eye, because he knew that they were way under paying me because I was a woman.

GP: Plus, he probably knew if it got out all the other women would get in line and want--

TM: I was the breadwinner in our family. My husband was in school, and they were paying me so pathetic little money and it was because I was a woman.

GP: Right, and from what I understand at that time, too, the assumption was, 'Well you are married.' First of all, you probably shouldn't be working because you are married, and second of all, the assumption was there that you weren't the main breadwinner so, too bad.

TM: So, when I found out what the men made, I made them raise my salary up a little bit.

GP: Cool. Well Susan Shie is the only other person I have talked to in the forty some people who were politically active in that time, so.

TM: I was definitely politically active in several ways.

GP: What about the whole counterculture lifestyle thing? Was that attractive to you? Did that influence your work at all?

TM: When I started that quilt called, "Shrine to the Beginning", I lived on Airdrie Farm, and we lived in a little farmhouse. There were some hippy kind of people living there. I guess we were kind of hippy-like in a way, except for my husband was in medical school. We got commodity foods because I made so little money. I baked bread and I collected mushrooms. My friend, I rode the lift this year--I mean I live in a two million dollar house, and this guy I rode the lift with, he told me that I still dress like a hippy.

GP: [laughs.] Well, some things get ingrained early on. Did you ever, at that time did you make patchwork clothes or anything like that to supplement, stuff to supplement and sell?

TM: I made pottery to sell. At that time, I still made pottery. I went to the Berea Arts and Crafts Fair and I sold pottery. Pottery is what I sold, and quiltmaking was something I just did for myself. I never did, I never made any cloth stuff to sell then, I just made pottery. But there was a transition that went between my pottery and my quilts. At the end I started, actually when I lived on Airdrie Farm I made these square boxes that I punched holes in, and then I made little quilt tops that I sewed onto the top of this clay box. So I started mixing up the media pretty early, too.

GP: When did you become aware of the national scene that was developing? Was that around the time of Quilt National?

TM: Yes, that was with Quilt National.

GP: Did you start teaching in the quilt world at that point, like a lot of the people were doing?

TM: I started, yes. I went to Milwaukee and did some lectures. It was really hard for me. I was really, I had a difficult time getting up in front of a group of people, and I--

GP: Why? You had taught before.

TM: I taught children. I taught art to them. But getting up and speaking before a group of adults was, I was very shy. But I hired this friend of mine to help me prepare a slide lecture and he worked on it with me, and I eventually got to where I felt like I was good at it.

GP: And you still do that. I know you teach.

TM: Yes, I do teach occasionally.

GP: What about supplies? Where did you get the stuff that you needed to make your work?

TM: I just went to fabric stores.

GP: So, you didn't have any problem where you were living finding fabric stores and stuff that you wanted to use?

TM: No. By the time I started making quilts, I already--I was a fabricaholic.

GP: Right from the get-go.

TM: I used to go down to this little store in Newport, Kentucky called Gross Dry Goods and buy fabric to make clothes out of, and I had a huge stash of fabric under my bed. Even all the way through high school. So, when I started making quilts, I started just using up some of that stuff and then I would go buy stuff at fabric stores. So, I already knew how to buy fabric.

GP: In terms of the embellishment, did you collect buttons? Did you have all that kind of stuff laying around?

TM: No, I probably started, I had buttons, but I started getting it as I needed it. I'm trying to think, in the beginning I didn't have a lot of that stuff and then I started collecting it.

GP: I am kind of in the middle of the second page of questions, like in the twenties. Is there anything in terms of your approach to your work that you want to talk about, in terms of how you work?

TM: My early work was more linear, like little squares with pictures of animals in it or things like that, and then it started getting more landscape. I went through and did some landscape kind of thing, and then with the firework quilts, when I started making the firework quilts, I started getting, there were some that started getting more abstract.

GP: Do you design them on the wall as you go, or do you draw them out ahead of time?

TM: Sometimes I draw them out, but they are pretty loose illustrations and I kind of change things as I go. Nancy Crow is the one that told me to start working on the wall. Before that, I was working on the floor.

GP: [laughs.] Well, she was, too. [laughs.]

TM: I still work on the floor, too. Right now, I'm piecing a part of--I have a commission right now that is going to be a triptych that each piece is nine by twelve feet and I'm piecing parts of that, so they are up there laying on my floor.

GP: [laughs.] Do you do a lot of commissions?

TM: Sometimes, not too often. I like to do them occasionally if they give me a lot of freedom in it.

GP: What about trends? What have you seen in the thirty some years that you have been working? What do you see going on in this field?

TM: As soon as somebody starts something new, eventually there are more people doing it. Like, my friend Margarite called me today, and she had taken Michael James' workshop, and she said, 'Well I was influenced by Michael James. Now I'm doing a piece that is three sections', you know, like his new work is with his sections? So, I expect I will see a slew of three section pieces, that have three sections that don't really--

GP: Relate to anything. [laughs.]

TM: When I started doing embellishments, eventually there started being--

GP: Oh, my god, the whole world is doing embellishments now. Thank you. So, you started that. [laughs.]

TM: One guy called me the pioneer of embellishment. There are quilts that are influenced by what Nancy Crow has done and--

GP: In terms of what?

TM: The big colorful sections. The way she--I mean she teaches workshops all around the country, so of course it influences how people work.

GP: Right, and I think what we are talking about here is essentially derivative work at this point in time, because we are thirty some years into this movement, so you have all this derivative work coming on and that seems to be an issue. For some people it doesn't bother them and for some people it does. When we started talking about trends you mentioned that right away, so I just wondered how you felt about that.

TM: I think it is hard on the people who are doing their own thing and then all of a sudden a whole bunch of other people start doing what they do. It was hard for me. A lot of people started jumping on what I was doing, and it made, it made me not feel like doing it anymore. In a way it made me drop out for quite a while. I didn't. I was like--

GP: You just see it. I can't think of anybody. I mean, Susan Shie's work is the same thing.

TM: Shie was doing--her work was her own right from the beginning.

GP: Yes it is, but you see--

TM: Other people doing what she does.

GP: Yes, and again she teaches a lot, too, so the issue that Nancy's response to it was that people take classes and they are not processing it, so they are not--they are showing their work way too early before they have kind of made it their own, I guess. So, you would agree with that, too?

TM: I mean I think people should try to figure out how to do their own work.

GP: Yes, it is an interesting phenomenon.

TM: Then, of course, I have to say, like I absorbed what Martha was doing when I saw her embellishing.

GP: Right, I think we all do, my guess that your work also doesn't look like her work.

TM: My work looks nothing like her work.

GP: Exactly, that is my point. I think that there is this process, and when we are talking about technique, a specific technique or way of doing something, people can learn or copy a technique, but they can't be you.

TM: Exactly, they can copy what you do and eventually it becomes their own, how they use it. Like Jane.

GP: Hopefully.

TM: Jane definitely was influenced by my work. I don't know if she admits it or not.

GP: Well, we will find out. [laughs.]

TM: Yea, it will be interesting as to what she has to say about it.

GP: But her work looks very different then your work.

TM: It does look very different than mine now. It has always actually looked different than my work, but I would say she got some clues about where to start or what to do from watching me. If I hung out with her very long, I probably would get influenced back.

GP: Right. Are there any people that you think that I should talk to, that I would be foolish if I didn't talk to?

TM: As far as Ohio quiltmakers go?

GP: That is what they are limiting my book to. The whole purpose of the book is to tell the story of how the art quilt movement started in the state, and I'm including some young contemporary people too who are just getting started, but I'm trying to tell the story of the emergence and evolution of the art quilt in Ohio.

TM: Is there a lady named Fran Soika in Ohio?

GP: Yes, I learned to appliqué from her.

TM: She does those pieces for, she probably has her own work, and then she does those pieces for that guy.

GP: The New Mexican potter right, is that what you mean? Oh, that other guy.

TM: The folk art guy.

GP: Yes, I know who you mean, I can't think of his name right now.

TM: I can't think of his name, and he does those political quilts. And Françoise Barnes, I think she and Nancy worked on the original Quilt National.

GP: Yes, and it sounds they worked together. It sounds like it was Nancy, Françoise, Virginia and this woman named Sue Hoyt at the very beginning…How about Penny McMorris?

TM: I know her really well. You definitely need to talk about Penny McMorris. For me, Penny [McMorris.] was one of the most important people in my career as a quiltmaker, because she is the one who looked at my work and recognized it for what it was, I feel like. Penny was the most important person as far as my career goes.

GP: Did she put you in touch with collectors?

TM: Yes, she has put me into some collections. I was in a gallery in New York I just think that Penny, I don't know what to call the word, but her recognition of my work is really helped get it out there and help other people see it.

GP: She championed your work it sounds like.

TM: She championed my work, she did, and she was such a good friend to me, and she still is. I still think Penny has such an amazing take on things.

GP: She is really, she is an amazing woman. I feel like everybody that I have talked to--I just rewrote the whole beginning introduction to my book, starting it off saying this is a group of amazing, amazing, incredible women, and it really is. I mean I already told my husband that when I'm done with this, now I want to write a whole biography series, one book on each person, because there is so much to tell. I hate having to have a limited number of pages and all this and then try to cram all this cool information in. It is such a neat group of people.

TM: I can't wait to see your book; it should be really interesting.

GP: It is supposed to come out next fall, so, assuming I meet my June 15 deadline we will see how that goes. [laughs.] I'm working on it. Is there anything that I have forgotten or a note that you made that you wanted to add?

TM: Let me see.

GP: I know one thing I wanted to ask you is, some of the work that you have done I think more recently, say in the last five or ten years, where you are including objects with your work, like the fishing hats or the superior bed. A trunk or something that you include when you are showing your work. Can you tell me about that work?

TM: I have done a number of pieces that have three dimensional parts to them. What do you want me to tell you about it?

GP: Well, I was just curious. I really like that.

TM: There is a piece that is a firework quilt that has a fence that sits in front of it, that is part of the visual image.

GP: In a way they become sculptural, especially, I like the bed quilt a lot. With the sticks, Superior Lake--

TM: "Lake Superior Bed Quilt." Yes, that is a really wonderful piece. It seems to me a bed is a natural.

GP: Well, it was such a great illusion, the whole thing.

TM: Yes. That is a wonderful piece. I probably will do more like that.

GP: I was just curious.

TM: I don't know. I guess I go back and forth with media. I just used what I feel like is the key for the idea. That piece is kind of about the old, it is an environmental piece, and it is about the old adage, 'you've made your bed, now sleep in it.' So, all of those sticks are sticks I picked up off of the shore of Lake Superior that is a dead lake. So, it is about how we have killed our environment and now we have to live in it. Pretty much why I did that quilt. I had another bed that I made called, "The Garage Sale Bed."

GP: I haven't seen that one.

TM: It hasn't been published or anything, but I took it to a little show and gallery in Paducah, and the owner of the gallery bought it, and it was when I was moving out of our favorite house, 3 Madison Lane, and I cleaned out my daughter's closet and all of my stuff and I didn't want to throw all that stuff away, so I glued it all over the entire surface of the bed. I sold the bed for a lot more money than I would have gotten for all the stuff.

GP: For having another garage sale, right? [laughs.]

TM: Right. So, things like that. That didn't have a quilt that went with it.

GP: Well, maybe if you had more time and you weren't moving. [laughs.]

TM: Right, I probably would have. I would like to do some more beds like that. Oh, I did this really fabulous piece that was three dimensional once called, "Building a New Camp", and I loved that piece. To me it was a really important piece, and what I did was I started thinking about it when I was getting the new studio ready.

GP: Out there?

TM: In Cincinnati, and I was painting. I took out a wall of this place I was going to make into a studio, and then I was painting the walls and I started about making camps when I was a kid and all the different little camps we made in the woods and about, I was getting that same feeling. So, I made this piece. I got a bunch of old chairs and cut them up and I made a quilt that went through it, and it was on a platform, it had a mosaic floor on it, and you could get inside of it. And I exhibited it in a show that I had at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and my parents decided to go up and see that show. Most of the time if my parents went to my show, they would look at, my dad would look at the price list on the wall and he would tell me how much money I would make if I sold all the work in the show, and that is about all he had to say about it.

GP: [laughs.]

TM: And so, he went to that show, and he saw that piece and he walked over, and he said--I met him for dinner after, I wasn't with them when they saw the show. They called me and they said, 'We just went and saw your show. Will you meet us for dinner?' So, I met him and my Uncle Bob and Aunt Tunk[her maiden name was Tunker, thus the nickname.] and we all had dinner, and my mom, and my dad are sitting there and he said, 'We went to see your show today.' And he said, 'I walked in and I saw that thing you built and at first I thought, now who would build something like this?'

GP: [laughs.]

TM: But what I had done is that I put this little journal out and I asked all the viewers to write in the journal the stories about their spaces they made for themselves as children. About their camps. So, by the time my parents went there, there was this whole book full of these amazing stories that people had written, and my dad picked up that book and started reading it, and at the end of that night, here is what he said to me, he said, 'I think it is so amazing that you can help people remember those things.' And it was like.

GP: He got it finally.

TM: He finally understood what my work is--what my work is about, and it made me so happy. My dad understood what my talent was.

GP: That is a great, great story. I love that. I love that. Are your parents still living?

TM: No, they died in a car wreck in 1992.

GP: Oh, I'm sorry, that is too bad.

TM: It was a hard loss at that time.

GP: I bet, I'll bet. Were you already divorced by then?

TM: Yes, I started getting divorced in '89. So, I was hard hit for a few years there.

GP: Yes, I'll bet. Was that any part of the reason why you wanted to open the shop, St. Theresa's? [St. Theresa Textile Trove in Cincinnati, Ohio.]

TM: That is totally the reason. I couldn't stand staying in my studio and being alone, and my sister, Becky, I said, 'Becky, let's just open a little fabric and bead store.' So that is why we opened the store.

GP: Pretty cool store.

TM: Yes, it is a great store.

GP: It really is. Part of the Ohio landscape now, it has been, for as much longer as it is there. She is running it now right?

TM: Yes.

GP: Well, I feel like I touched on everything I needed to. Again, if any thing else occurs to you at 3:00 in the morning or something, send me an email.

TM: I will look over your questions again if I think of anything else.

GP: That would be great. I really like the idea of, I think I like the idea, as I mentioned in my email, showing either that pair of the war quilts or the Oklahoma City quilts. I have a section where I'm talking about basically political issues; the Lake Superior piece would fit in there, too, in terms of environmentalism. And that, I would love to show, you talked about your piece with the forts. A lot of the people that I interviewed are kind of in and out of the field, like Petra Soesemann for example. You know, she kept saying when I was talking to her, 'I don't even know how I fit into this.' Half the work she makes she is like, 'I can't even enter this into Quilt National, it doesn't fit the category.' With her for example, she had this fabulous handmade book, and she has been doing some work in that, but she had made this essentially like a fabric sketchbook for some larger pieces that she was doing, getting four by fives made of that to show. I'm showing Susan Shie's journals from college. I want to show work, and I want to show work that you think is important, like you talked about the fort quilt or whatever.

TM: If I can find an image of it. I used to have a slide of it. If I still do I will send it to you.

GP: That would be great. As I said, anything you want to loan to me I will take care of.

TM: So, you want me to send you some slides in color?

GP: I need images and then I have to present all that stuff to the publisher and write the captions. The only other things I'm looking for--Elaine Plogman sent me the catalogue and the list of the very first show that Penny McMorris put together in 1976, for example, and had the names of everybody that was in it.

TM: Where was that?

GP: It was the first state-wide traveling quilt show in 1976, and it opened in Bowling Green [Ohio.]. She got an NEA grant.

TM: See, I wasn't in that one.

GP: No, you weren't in that one yet. She didn't know anybody then. It's kind of a cool story, too, but that kind of thing, if there are any things that you want to cross.

TM: I would like to send you a picture from the Oklahoma--

GP: Yes, something like that would be perfect. Because there is an historical focus and, also with the quilts and the artwork, I'm trying not to just show the same thing that everybody has seen in every publication that they have in their hands. I'm trying to flesh it out a little bit more and show different things, I guess.

TM: I have a new political piece here that has not been photographed yet. I made that in New Mexico. You want mostly stuff that's from--

GP: No. It's not that the work is about Ohio. I mean, a lot of people have moved away as you know and people like Wenda [von Weise.] and Virginia [Randles.], they are dead.

TM: If you had a pass through Ohio?

GP: Yes.

TM: I lived in Ohio when a major part of my career was happening. The initial stages of it.

GP: Right, and Jane, the reason I'm interviewing her--I know she had a studio in Cincinnati and that, she never really lived in Ohio, but because of that whole southern business down there around Cincinnati; You know, four different people, when I asked who should I interview, who must I talk to, they were like, 'you have to talk to her.' She is, they consider her, part of the Ohio scene, so I have to write about that. I'm going to have to write about Cincinnati as its own little entity down there. [laughs.]

TM: Right, like Cincinnati like spans the river.

GP: Well, it does, and it is probably, other than the other side of southern Ohio, the Appalachian side, it seems southern in a lot of ways. Like you said, it is very different than the experiences I find with the people who grew up in the northern part of the state.

TM: That is true, absolutely true.

GP: Well, gosh Terrie I really appreciate it, I really appreciate your time.

TM: Thank you for taking the time to read all this stuff and find out about all this.


“Terrie Mangat,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 19, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1919.