Hystercine Rankin (1929-2010)

Quilter, Lorman

Hystercine (pronounced “Her-teh-seen”) Rankin of Lorman has been making quilts since the age of twelve. She was taught by her grandmother in order to help make covers for her ten brothers and sisters. She continued to quilt after marrying and starting a family, providing quilts for the beds of each of her seven children.

In 1988 she began teaching quilting at Mississippi Cultural Crossroads in Port Gibson and has passed on her knowledge to many children in the community. She has also taught and influenced the work of several of the members of the Crossroads Quilters, the group of quilters who works in conjunction with Mississippi Cultural Crossroads.

Rankin has a mastery of many of the traditional quilt patterns like the log cabin and the string quilt. However, she makes her own unique versions of them, improvising with colors and shapes to create distinctive works. She also makes what she calls “memory quilts.” Using applique and embroidery, she creates quilts that feature scenes from her life and her stories relating to her family.

Rankin has been recognized for her achievements by several agencies. The Mississippi Arts Commission awarded her the Susan B. Herron Fellowship in 1991. Her work has been displayed in touring exhibitions mounted by Mississippi Cultural Crossroads, the Mississippi Arts Commission, and others. She served as a demonstrator at the 1996 Festival of American Folklife in Washington D.C. And in 1997, she was a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For additional information on Rankin, see the following books:

Crosby, David. Quilts and Quilting in Claiborne County: Traditions and Change in a Rural Southern County. Mississippi Cultural Crossroads, 1999.

Freeman, Roland L. A Communion of the Spirits: African-American Quilters, Preservers, and Their Stories. Rutledge Hill Press, 1996.

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