On Mother's Day, May 1987, The Crystal Quilt was performed by 430 women, all over the age of 65. It was the culmination of the 212 year Whisper Minnesota Project by performance artist Suzanne Lacy--an extensive organizing network with over 500 volunteers who developed a media campaign, series of community events, and educational programs on the theme of aging. The Crystal Quilt performance involved 20 artists from across the country who contributed their expertise in stage design, sound, documentation, and direction. The two hour performance took place in the center of the IDS Crystal Court, designed by Phillip Johnson, and was live broadcast by the PBS television affiliate in Minneapolis.
Dressed completely in black, the performers entered the "stage" – an 82 foot square rug designed by Miriam Schapiro, that served as the base of the quilt pattern. Seated at card tables, they unfolded tablecloths of red and yellow that completed the quilt effect when seen from above. The older women talked to each other while the audience listened to pre-recorded soundtrack of similar conversations. The following quotations are drawn from this soundtrack by composer Susan Stone and a videotape by Linda Brooks:
As you approach your exits, when you get to be 70 or 75, I think your response to stimuli is intensified. I feel as though I am living a richer life, because I am experiencing so much more. That sunset, you know, let's have it last a little longer!
I feel like I need to live about two years more, to bring in my crops before the frost, I call it. My unfinished work...I have three books to finish. But that is a patriarchal statement; women don't 'finish' things. — Meridel Le Seuer
As I come to realize that death is going to be a part of my life in the next few years, I become more and more aware of what I have given and not given to my children. And I try to make my contribution to their lives more colorful, more exacting in standards, but also more enjoyable. So that if they have to go through that period of indignity with me, they will have the remembrance of a richer, better relationship.