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Fabricating history: Roswell resident records COVID-19 through quilting

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ROSWELL, Ga. — It wasn’t long into 2020: March Madness was canceled; Taylor Swift suspended her 2020 Lover Tour; schools closed classrooms.

And Kathy Davis took up quilting again.

Davis, of Roswell, felt inspiration to pick up a “mindless” pastime to get her through the isolation of the pandemic. In quilting, she documented the coronavirus through her hands.

Davis has been quilting for 28 years, but what compelled her to resume the craft with added gusto last year was simple: her own sanity.

“I didn’t know how I felt about covering up with COVID,” Davis said.

Over the years, Davis has quilted more than 75 pieces. Her latest works – 10 in all – carry a theme surrounding the events of 2020 that shook the world. At the same time, she said, she wanted the pieces to remain apolitical.

Her quilts illustrate a representation of notable events throughout 2020, including the cancellation of March Madness, the use of masks, the historical Georgia runoff election, and the January 6 Capitol riot.

The quilts she is most proud of are entitled “2020,” blankets which display a timeline from the beginning of the pandemic to its end, and “Mask it or Casket,” created from scrap fabric of the masks she made for friends, family and first responders.

“[Mask it or Casket”] was fun because the masks are all different for all different people, but there’s a section of [the pieces] where the colors flow, really flow and blend nicely — it was not intended,” Davis said.

Another work, “Super Spreader,” she said, was inspired by envisioning how a virus spreads.

Once she had completed her collection of COVID quilts, David got each professionally photographed. She hopes to exhibit them at art shows or exhibits in the coming months.

Later, she intends to pass them on to her great-grandchildren.

Davis said when her grandmother passed during the flu epidemic of 1919, she had no history or records to revisit throughout her family tree, so she wanted to ensure that her family for generations to come will learn from her quilted pieces and pass them on.

“Nobody thought of saving anything,” Davis said. “This [pandemic] was really exciting and it really has never happened like this before, so I wanted them to have something that would explain what we went through.”

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