Form & Function

June 17, 2013

Marie Watt's Blanket Tower

By Amy Hackworth. Image here.

When I happened upon Marie Watt’s Blanket Tower at the museum recently, I marveled at the 12-foot stack she’d created (how?!) of wool blankets. Blankets are universally functional, and I love that Watts created a piece of art celebrating such a meaningful staple of our homes.

I was struck with this homey feeling of comfort, which seems appropriate since blankets offer physical and emotional warmth. They’re utilitarian, but often develop a strong emotional component. More than just practical household items, blankets can be family treasures, too, and sometimes carry a sort of provenance the whole family knows and a nostalgia the whole family feels.

The tower is more than twice my height, and that’s a striking number of blankets, many of them contributed by families for the project. I felt a strong sense of community, thinking that each blanket represented a different family—their picnics, guest beds, sofa snuggles. Though each family is different, we all need and use many of the same practical items to create our individual lives and homes. They’re woven into our separate family histories, but also have meaning across our shared experiences.

So many things pass through our homes over the years. Which are the items that share both function and meaning in your family? Which are the keepers? And what other household items gathered en masse would make an interesting art exhibit?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay June 17, 2013 at 7:45 am

My Dad got drafted in 1965. When he got out of the Army he took one of the cups they used in the mess hall at mealtime.
I was born in 1966. For my entire life I remember that cup being used for bacon fat and kept in the fridge for frying eggs in the morning.
My Dad was born in England and being a war baby was raised on rations. Bacon fat would have been precious.
So- I got the cup when I grew up. I don’t put bacon fat in it (we use olive oil these days) but the cup will always be in my fridge.
Practical for years- very meaningful to me.

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2 Alexis Gentry June 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Can you imagine an installation of compiled books from a person’s entire reading experience (of their LIFE)???? That would be so cool. And very interesting to dissect. :)

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3 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay June 17, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Alexis. I love that idea. Makes me want to start thinking back now. A lot of non-fiction in my installation.

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4 Lindsay - Shop Ella Lou June 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

This would be incredible! Books have always been precious to me, a source of wonderful escape. After all my childhood picture books, my installation would have the entire American Girl series followed by the Babysitters Club (child of the 80s!) before turing to the Great Gatsby and other classics and then years of thick political science and international affairs textbooks… It would then come full circle with picture books as much of what I read these days to my daughter are the same books I enjoyed as a child.

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5 Loni June 18, 2013 at 8:24 am

WOW, what an interesting and unique idea. I love people’s imagination and creativity.

So, what would I keep or pass on….This makes me think; I’m not a collector or a keeper of lots of things. For me, the most valuable items would definitely be pictures and family books – like a book I compiled of my children’s letters to their grandparents. That is a treasure and one I hope will be passed on.

But, this striking exhibit makes me really THINK. Thanks for this post.

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6 Justin June 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Seems like anyone that’s had a spare blanket around for more than a year probably has a dozen great stories about it. What a fantastic idea for an exhibit.

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7 Alice Gold June 18, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I saw this same piece of art at the BYU Art Museum and also LOVED it. Especially with the people who have lost everything in CO wildfires and OK tornadoes, I think it is an especially poignant time to think of the items in our homes that mean HOME to us. I personally value the functional items more than the design ones, but that’s just me.

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