Skip to main content

The Anacostia Community Museum’s indoor gallery will be closed March 2 through May 18 as we bring our next exhibition to life. Even though our gallery is closed, join us at any of the dynamic upcoming events planned during this time. More information about our events is available at: We look forward to seeing you soon!

Flour Sack

Object Details

Thomas Mack
cotton, polyester, batting
97 × 74 1/4 in. (246.4 × 188.6 cm)
Cite As
Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution
In this quilt made by Thomas Mack (1922-2017), the fronts and backs of flour sacks create a checkerboard, a recurring pattern in the artist’s work. The cotton fabric matches the color of its contents, self-rising flour milled in Mack’s home state of South Carolina. Printed labels pop in full color on the quilt’s front, in addition to supplying a biscuit recipe. The flour sacks also form the binding, while the quilt’s backing is a light pink fabric. On the quilt top, colorful yarn knotted around the rectangles’ edges secure the quilt’s layers.
Perhaps the island pictured on the flour sack reminded Mack of St. Helena Island, off South Carolina’s coast, where he grew up quilting with his family in a Gullah community. They made quilts using materials at hand, including flour sacks. As New York Times art critic Holland Cotter notes, Mack “elevates them, printed labels and all, to a primary design element.” This quilt was among four by Mack on display in the 1998 exhibition “Man Made: African American Men and Quilting Traditions” at the Anacostia Community Museum (2014.0023.0001, 2014.0023.0003, 2014.0023.0004).
Accession Number
See more items in
Anacostia Community Museum Collection
Data Source
Anacostia Community Museum
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Record ID
Back to Top