Film tells story of Quilt Trail founder, Donna Sue Groves –
By Patricia Beech –
When filmmaker Julianne Donofrio happened upon a quilt square attached to a barn during a trip to eastern Tennessee in 2009, she learned for the first time about Donna Sue Groves, the founder of the Quilt Square Trail.
Today, nine years later, Donofrio, a Peabody Award-winning veteran of ABC News, is bringing her documentary, “Pieced Together” to Adams County.
“The film tells the story of how one woman’s love for her mother changed the American landscape and saved her life after a job loss, breast cancer, and multiple health concerns,” said Donofrio. “It’s a deeply personal story.”
“Pieced Together” debuted at the National Quilt Trail Gathering in 2016 and was an Official Selection of the 2016 River’s Edge International Film Festival and the 2017 Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival.
The 53-minute-long film will be screened in Adams County at West Union Elementary on Friday, April 6 at 6 p.m. Admission is free.
“I felt honored to witness and document what will one day be a chapter in our American history,” says Donofrio.
The story of Donna Sue Groves and the Quilt Barn Trail began in Adams County almost two decades ago. Groves wanted to pretty up an old barn for her mother, Nina Maxine, a celebrated quilter, by hanging a wooden square painted to look like a traditional quilt block. A community organizer by trade, Groves thought why stop with just one square?
She organized her neighbors and friends, and together they created a driving trail of quilt squares hanging on barns across Adams County.
“She wanted to attract tourists looking for a day trip who might stop and spend money on gas, food, or crafts made by local artists,” said Tom Cross, Director of the Adams County Travel and Business Bureau.
The first of the twenty original quilt squares was hung in 2001 at the Lewis Mountain Herb Farm on State Rte. 247 between Manchester and West Union. That first quilt square sparked a grass roots phenomenon and a new form of American public art.
Today, 39 states and parts of Canada have quilt square trails.
In fact, there are more than 240 trails and countless squares found on barns, garages, and fences from California to Tennessee to Prince Edward Island.
Donofrio says the quilt trails have a universal appeal for most Americans.
“When I talked to my colleagues who grew up on both the east and west coasts about this story, I discovered they all had a quilt story of their own,” she says. “Their perceptions and memories of the quilts and quilters they knew as children were just like those I found in the Midwest and across the rest of the country.”
After stumbling upon the quilt trail nearly 10 years ago, Donofrio turned to Google where she discovered Groves through a “pink” web page created by the quilt trail organizers in Garrett County, Md. They were raising funds for Donna Sue who had lost her job and was battling breast cancer.
“I guarantee you, that had it not been for the quilt trail community, I would not be here today,” says Groves, who admits she never planned on creating a cross-country community, but it is that very community of friends and strangers that helped her put the pieces of her life back together.
“She is forever comforted by their love, as if it were a quilt made of fabric and thread, but this quilt is special” says Donofrio. “It’s made of plywood and paint.”
For more information about the film go to www.piecedtogetherdoc.com.