Significance of Quilts


A quilt is a work of art that represents many significant ideals. Quilts represent incomplete parts coming together as a unified and beautiful whole, and unimportant things being made useful.

Traditionally, quilts were made from scraps of clothing. As clothing is an item worn close to the body, a quilt represents an intimate involvement with past generations. Like the bits and pieces that make up a quilt, the generations past are what have helped to form the lives we live today. The process involved in creating a quilt is also something which is often communal; a craft passed down from one generation to the next. Quilts are often made by the contributions of many people; the scraps of cloth coming together to form a quilt, and the people coming together to form a community.

Quilts also challenge our view of art, suggesting that art is something we are actively involved with, rather than something to be admired from a distance.

As an object which is created from intimate items from past generations, and something we are communally involved with, a quilt is a near perfect representation of what the students in Harley’s Hospice program are accomplishing through their service of and connection with the dying.



Each square made for the Harley Hospice Quilt represents an individual who died under hospice care. They are mostly constructed from clothing, photographs, and other items donated by the dying person or by their family members. The time spent and relationships formed between Harley students and these individuals is represented in this work of art.

As a tactile object, the quilt additionally represents the service performed by the students for the dying. Students physically touch the dying person through care, and the act of cutting and hand stitching the dying person’s clothing brings the students into a deep communion with their memories.

“The [quilt] squares are just the patterns of humanity set in place by the new generation. The stitches are the soulful threads that render us as one people whose diversity is embraced by a common birth and an inevitable death.”

-Bob Kane, founder of CMEE