Mary Eveland, Benjamin Franklin in an Electrical Storm Discovering a Form of Electricity, oil on cardboard, ca. 1976-80

Mary Eveland

Mary Eveland, a farmer’s wife from Pekin, Illinois, did not start quilting and painting until her 80s. Since she began quilting late in her life, the stitching is often lopsided and uneven, which adds to the charm of her work. Her declining eyesight also limited her ability to infuse details into her work, and, consequently, she is known for her linear, simplified style. Her quilts were created around several themes: the changing landscape of Illinois, American history and religious iconography, which are depicted with a mix of stitched images and phrases. Within these broad subjects she often interjected important moments and people from her own life, such as a panel on Father’s Day in the “Great Opportunities—United States History” quilt, which features more commonly “great” people like Benjamin Franklin. Her success with quilting caught the attention of collector Merle Glick, who encouraged her to take up painting and paid for her art supplies. Eveland used only primary colors on her more than 30 paintings and stuck with her preferred themes of landscapes, history, and religious iconography.

Mary Eveland, Noah's Ark, oil on canvas, ca. 1976-80