This is Maggie Malone's more playful, two-color version of COLUMBIAN STAR (see upper left), illustrated in her full color 5,500 QUILT BLOCK DESIGNS (#686). And with further variation, as regards fabrics and light and dark arrangement, see here upper right. Via Malone's genius, the design has somehow acquired feet, hands and ears, reminiscent of the ancient Greek geometric motifs, which tend to enliven abstractions, for example, the Minoan pottery design, called "flying diamonds," illustrated right. "Columbian" is a traditional term, referring to the USA, and obviously derived from Christopher Columbus.
The block is dated back to the late 19th century Ladies Art Company Catalogue #50, and here included in Nancy Cabot's column in the Chicago Tribune, May 11, 1935. See Barbara Brackman's ENCYCLOPEDIA (#1776) and Jinny Beyer's QUILTER'S ALBUM (p. 156-6). Cabot comments:
"The star Arcturus found its way to the quilt world during the 1933 [World's Fair] Century of Progress, as the "Columbian Star" did in the 1893 exposition. The similarity in quilt blocks ends with the tradition of the beam of light. The COLUMBIAN STAR is a pieced pattern, an elaborate nine patch design, as easy to make as it is beautiful."
Compare at this site with COLUMBIAN CHAIN and CENTURY OF PROGRESS (both also illustrated by Nancy Cabot). For playfulness, see CRAZY QUILT, SNAIL'S TRAIL and TOAD IN A PUDDLE. For shining beams of light, how about POLARIS STAR and AERIAL BEACON!