Helping communities across the state connect their heritage arts and traditions to local development, education, and active citizenship
Hollister, Warren County, NC
Nannie Lynch’s earliest memories of quilts date back to her childhood in the 1940s. The family farmed tobacco, corn, and peanuts near Hollister, and during the winter months, Lynch’s mother and aunts would meet every so often at one or another’s house to quilt patchwork tops. They’d quilt through the morning, breaking for a midday dinner. She remembers, “They seemed to enjoy each other a lot—talking, laughing, telling things they wouldn’t say around us. You’d have to be behind a door to hear.”
In those early days, Lynch’s mother pieced scraps together into squares, without intricate patterns. “It would keep you warm. That’s what they made them for back then.” In later years she would experiment with patterns like bear’s foot and log cabin.
When Lynch grew up and married, she and her husband Almorris moved to Maryland, where they raised their children. She quilted on and off in those years. It wasn’t until the family moved back to Hollister that she took up quilting as a steady pursuit. Today she has made many large quilts, featuring traditional patterns and elaborate schemes of complimentary and contrasting colors. Her husband, who is also a good hand with a needle and thread, often helps her with the quilting. Daughter Karen Lynch Harley, a painter and multimedia artist, points out that the signature of her mother’s quilts is that each one expresses the family’s Haliwa-Saponi heritage, whether in the design or through the use of prints with Native American themes.
Nannie Lynch is a member of the Tar River Quilting Guild based in Rocky Mount. She says that she and the other members enjoy getting together and comparing notes on what they’ve been working on. “It’s kind of like show-and-tell,” she says. She makes quilts for sale as well as for family use, and keeps an album of photographs of the many beautiful pieces she has made over the years.