Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New York Lady by Marianne Fons

My dream as a high school student in Houston, Texas, was to attend Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and become a famous fashion designer. I applied and was accepted, but then let well-meaning people dissuade me. I'd never been to New York, and F.I.T.'s neighborhood was rough in the late 60s. Instead, I attended University of Houston, majored in English, relocated to Iowa, my birth state, and completed my education at Drake University.

I finally visited the Big Apple in 1986. My Lady Liberty Medallion was Iowa winner in the Great American Quilt Contest. Sponsored by 3M and the American Folk Art Museum, the contest celebrated the Statue of Liberty's 100th birthday. Finalists were chosen by state, and each state winner received a travel stipend to attend the Great American Quilt Festival at the New York City Exhibition Pier.

After that first trip, I made many others over the years–to style fabrics for Benartex and, later, to call on many quilt industry fabric companies when I was in charge of advertising sales for Love of Quilting magazine.

My oldest daughter Hannah, after graduating from University of Iowa in the early 1990s, moved to New York and has never lived elsewhere. I visited her first in Brooklyn, then in Hell's Kitchen, and now the East Village.

Just earlier this month, I traveled to New York as a presenter for the Alliance for American Quilts event. It was sweet to stand at a podium in the conference center of Fashion Institute of Technology, delivering my lecture "Why We Quilt" to an audience of several hundred. My middle daughter Mary Fons, TV co-host now on "Love of Quilting" and creator and host of her own online how-to program Quilty, presented as well. Hannah, who's taken numerous classes herself at F.I.T., was in the audience.

I'm a more sophisticated traveler now than when I visited Manhattan for the first time. I've walked miles up and down the Avenues, traipsed numbered streets from east side to west, shopped in many neighborhoods, and own a membership at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Still, the sight of Lady Liberty standing in New York Harbor moves me to tears at the same speed she did when our eyes met the first time almost 25 years ago.

Thank you again to Marianne Fons for contributing to The Fiber Nation.

1 comment:

  1. What a heart felt contribution. Parts of it almost brought me to tears, mainly because of my early career as a surface textile designer also being derailed by "well meaning" folks. I am just delighted by the outcome of Marianne's life. What a lesson for all of us in following our passion despite the turns in the road we may take. Thank you Marianne.