Ron and Carla Iris’s Narrative
Ron and Carla Iris chose the Lone Star quilt pattern with strong personal meaning for this artwork on their barn. Ron is the artist. Carla and Ron imagined, created, altered and re-envisioned the design together. The colors of the star are those of a rainbow inspired by Genesis 9:13 of the Latin Old Testament that uses the Greek word “Iris” to indicate the “eye” or “rainbow” covenant in the sky.
The Irises were inspired by the patchwork Lone Star Quilt beautifully pieced and sewn by Carla’s grandmother, Lemora Gilbert Roberts. This photograph shows the patchwork quilt created by Lemora. Carla also received from her a Civil War soldier photograph of Giles Whitaker, Lemora’s half-Cherokee grandfather, and a brief account of what little she knew about him, as he died a prisoner of war when Lemora’s mother was only seven years old. This makes Carla all of 1/32 Cherokee by blood – unbeknownst until she was 20 years old!
The barn quilt pattern is a vibrant, primary and secondary color eight pointed star with a bald eagle ascending into it. The eagle is one of the three sacred birds of the Cherokee Bird Clan. The Irises don’t know which clan they are part of, but like imagining a myriad of connections and possibilities. The star has eight points. Ron is a retired ordained clergyman. In Christian symbolism the 8-point star stands for the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11.
Ron and Carla are fourth-generation caretaking owners of the Peterson-Figgins-Iris Centennial Farm on Victory Drive and Anderson Road in Victory Township.
Ron’s great-grandparents, immigrants from Denmark, homesteaded the 30 acre parcel of land in the 1880’s. They eventually raised ten children on this farm and most lived their whole lives in Mason County. Ron was raised on the farm with his grandparents, Louis and Ellen Peterson, each summer until graduating from high school. In 1953 a tornado in Victory Township crushed the original barn and moved the original house off its foundation; both were rebuilt that year using lumber from the first structures. Since Louis and Ellen raised chickens and sold eggs, the barn was rebuilt to that standard, with double walls for insulation and rolled shingle siding.
This barn, with its unusual combination of green siding with painted red doors, has been featured in a 1996 national barn calendar, as part of the Ludington-Scottville Chamber of Commerce Barns & Byways Tours in 2010 and 2011, and by Ludington gallery photographers Todd and Brad Reed.