The Katrina Recovery Quilt Collection

55 original art quilts by Solveig Wells, donated by Dave Wells


Rays of Hope III
20” x 29” August 2006 Bay St Louis Bottom dark dangerous rays are sea colors. Top bright happy rays are hopeful. Sun shape divides them. Machine pieced and quilted on Pfaff 2046. Cyclonic border and binding are new fabric. All other fabric from wheelbarrow, Poolhouse, and beach.

Helping Hands I
38” x 21” October 2006, Fredericton & April 2007, Bay St Louis The caring people who helped rebuilt the shattered Gulf Coast inspired this quilt. Except for the backing and binding, all the fabrics were affected by Katrina. Background quilted with Pfaff Grand Quilter in Inspira frame. House and hands pieced and quilted with Bernina Aurora 440.

Footsteps in the Sand I
25′ x 31.5” March 2006 Bay St Louis Footprints traverse the debris of people’s lives. Machine pieced and quilted. Footsteps hand-appliquéd. All fabrics in this fractured landscape came from the beach and the poolhouse. The seagulls, representing life returning to the beach, were hand-designed and made from white fabric.

When Hurricane Katrina hit Hancock County, Mississippi on August 29, 2005, it flooded and damaged master quiltmaker Solveig Wells’ fabrics. During debris clearing operations, some became buried on the beach in Bay St. Louis. In December 2005, Solveig returned from her other home in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Walking on the beach on January 6, 2006, Solveig recognized bits of her fabric sticking out of the sand. She pulled at the scraps and discovered a cache of about 15 yards of her fabric, some severely weathered and frayed, some “tie-dyed” and some hardly affected.

More fabric was found, still wet after four months, in a wheelbarrow and in a filing cabinet. Some fabric remained in the “Poolhouse,” her flooded Mississippi home, for the four months it took to gut and rebuild the house. Solveig and her wonderful friend Miss Ann recovered wet, damaged fabric from the ruins of Miss Ann’s collectibles shop in Old Town Bay St Louis.

Solveig collected and washed these Katrina-affected fabrics, and began creating “Katrina Recovery” quilts. As she pieced together traditional quilting themes, she stitched together stories of Katrina’s force, the resolution shown by survivors, the generosity of thousands who came to help in the recovery, and the hope emerging from the chaos of Katrina.

Solveig passed away in 2013. Her husband Dave donated the quilt collection to the museum in 2014. They are displayed along the main hallway of the museum, above the red Katrina “high water” mark.

To view a complete gallery of all the quilts, click here for the Katrina Recovery Quilts website.

Solveig Wells, quilted self-portrait


David and Solveig Wells, post-Katrina Mardi Gras parade in Bay St. Louis. photo by Joe Tomasovsky

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