Here you will find links to various art forms (painting, poetry, essays, short stories)
that use quilt related themes from an ethnic perspective.
“Appalacian Artistry: Quilting Co-op Provides Vital Income for West Virginia
Craftswomen”: Published in the March/April 1998 issue of Rural Cooperatives, pp 25-27 (University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives)
Arpilleras: by Kristen Drumm (student paper)
Conjure in Mama Day – by Erin Weik. The use of a double wedding ring quilt in this novel by Gloria Naylor is explored.
“Ethnic Identification and Quilting Style Among Quilters in Hawaii”: Article by Linda B. Arthur of the University of Hawaii. Do a CTRL-F and enter “Arthur” (without the quote marks) in the search box, then hit enter.
Making Writing Matter: Using “The Personal” to Recover(y) and Essential(ist) Tension in Academic Discourse: Despite the wearisome title of this paper by Jane E. Hindman, there is one part that needs to be read. It starts with the last paragraph on page 103 and continues through page 105. In this paper, she takes her own self “to task” for how she interpreted the interactions between a group of African-American quilters, based on which she wrote several papers and speeches.
Navaho Women: Weaving Their Way Through History: By Samantha Bouman (student paper)
Contemporary Female Voices: The Revival Of Quilt-Making Among Rural Hindu Women
Of Eastern India
: Article by Sandra Gunning in the Fall 2000 issue of Feminist
This is a series of essays, two of which deal specifically with
African-Americans and quilt themes. The first is by Jean Chandler, “Three
Women: Alice Walker and Heritage”. This essay explores the quilt theme as
it is used in both “Everyday Use” and The
Color Purple. From here, you will need to use your “Find” function
(CTRL-F) and skip down to the essay by Jody McNannay, “How to Make an
American Quilt”. She explores how the imagery of quilts is used for all of
the characters including Anna.
the Winter: the evolution of quiltmaking among two cultures in New Mexico”
– by Dorothy
Zopf. This 1998 essay links the history of quiltmaking in New Mexico from both
the Hispanic and “Anglo” traditions. The stories are told through the
voices of the women.
Heart of Darkness in a Multicolored World: The Color Purple by Alice Walker as a
Extensive essay by Elena Shakhovtseva
Power of the Hands: African-American Women as Shapers of Creative Expression in
By Dr. Frances Hardy. She starts the article (which has quilting
references sprinkled throughout) with a quote from Alice Walker:
grandmothers and mothers were not
saints, but Artists, driven to a numb and
bleeding madness by the springs of creativity in them for which they had no
Roles of Technology in Improvising
: by Nils
Olaya Fonstad. This is a paper prepared for the 2001 International Conference on
Information Systems Doctoral Consortium. Now, what does this have to do with
quilting? Nils uses the metaphor of quilting among African-Americans
historically to show how the lack of access to technology (i.e., artifacts) can
actually stimulate creativity and improvisation to achieve an objective. At
least thats what I think he’s saying since I only gave this a very cursory
Rhetoric of Quilts: Creating Identity in African-American Childrens
: Article by Olga Idriss Davis, African American Review. Spring 1998
Textiles – Resistance: Brief exploration of how women all over the
world have used textiles as a medium for resistance. Includes pictures. The
three essays below all deal with this topic.
Weavings of War: Extensive review with incredible
pictures of a 1997 exhibition that includes a war rug from Afghanistan, Tai Lue
weavings from Thailand, Hmong story cloths, and a Peruvian arpilleras.
Story Behind the Stitches: Indian Women, Indian Embroideries: Extensive and
intensive 1998 essay by Laila Tyabji. Also includes a discussion of Asia Society
Education: Shows an embroidered quilt from rural India designed by
Nirmala Devi and embroidered by Soni Kumari and Neelu Kumari from Ramnagar.
Deals with lack of educational opportunities for females.
Saunders – Quilt
Fichter – Freedom
Smith – Improvisations
from a Patch Quilt
Denmark – Head
– this is a collage using
richly patterned scraps of fabric (scroll 2/3 way down the page to view as well
as to learn information about Denmark).
John Biggers – quilting imagery is used extensively throughout his work, both as a primary theme and as background patterning. All images are clickable to access very close-up views.
Jon Onye Lockard
Jonathan Green: Studied fabric construction. Most of his vibrant paintings relate to the Gullah culture in South Carolina.
Romare Bearden – The most distinguishable feature of Bearden’s paintings completed in the early to mid-1970s is the use of fabric, as seen in Hometime
and other works, such as Patchwork Quilt (1970, Museum of Modern Art, New York).
·”Captivity and Resistance” : Have not been able to find an image of this 1975 piece, but it is a fabric collage in the collection of the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia, PA
·Patchwork Quilt, 1970 – Collage of cloth, paper, and synthetic polymer paint
·Prince Cinque (Maquette), 1976: 60″ x 40″ –Textile
·Quilting Time – 1979
Ted Ellis – Three Sisters and a Quilt
Musical quilt pattern; Gouache on paper, 1993 [No image available]
Ida Pieces a Quilt – by Melvin Dixon. Melvin Dixon received a B.A. from
Wesleyan University, a doctorate from Brown University, and a Creative Writing
Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1984). He died in 1992. On
this site you can read his poem “Aunt Ida Pieces a Quilt”, a brief
bio, and view his picture.
Quilt, circa 1900 – by Jane Joyce. This is a poem written about Harriet
Powers and her Bible Quilt.
an Underground Railroad – lyrics by Kinny Landrum. These are the lyrics to a
great song about the Underground Railroad. To hear it sung via RealAudio: Click Here
McPherson : Sandra is a renown poet who has collected quilts made by African
Americans since the 1980s. Eighty-two (82) of the quilts and many of them
are stunning – are available for view on a CD for $23.15 ($19.95 plus $3.20
shipping). To obtain a copy, contract her via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
of her published volumes, The God of Indeterminancy: Poems, has a quilt by
Yvonne Wells on the cover. African-American created quilts also inspired some of
the poems in this volume.
Interview with Sandra McPherson : In this interview, Sandra speaks in
depth about why she was drawn to the quilts she has collected as well as
about the poems themselves.
of some of Sandras poetry:
Macks Utility Quilt With the Lights In It
Builds a Picket Fence and Talks to It
Quilt, Black Improvisation, 1980s
from the 60s: the No Blocks
Quilter in Her Quilt
Baskets, Summer Quilt
and Medallion Quilt, 1890, by Mrs. Longmire
Quilt of the Negro – by Avery Scott
Poems: 1987-1990. by Lucille Clifton. Lucille Clifton is Distinguished
Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received a
Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1970
and 1973. On this site you will be able to read one of the poems from this
volume: “slave cabin, sotterly plantation, maryland, 1989”. – the
following sites give descriptions of some of the other poems included in this
volume – this woman is profound:
to My Hips – you can read the poem and
listen to an audio clip of Lucille Clifton reading this poem
in Praise of Menstruation
the Civil Rights Leader” by Jackie Shelton Green
word was given Sunday
that you was coming
to their corner
so they swept dirt yards
put the chickens up
hung out the special quilt
Quilting” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar
sita a-quilting by her mother, stitch by stitch,
Gracious, how my pulses throb, how my fingers itch.
While I note her dainty waist, and her slender hand,
As she matches this and that, she stitches strand by strand.
And I long to tell her Life’s a quilt and I’m a patch;
Love will do the stitching if she’ll only be my match.
The full text of this superb short story can be read at this site. It is one of
the stories in the book, In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women.
essays that have been written about “Everyday Use” can be accessed
of the Story
Use”: Defining African American Heritage – by David White. Published
2001 in Portals, Purdue North Carolina
Spite of It All: A Reading of Alice
Walkers Everyday Use :
This is an extensive critical essay by Sam Whitsett in the Fall 2000 African
Names and Heritage: Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” – by Helga Hoel
and Art in Everyday Use – brief essay
Boy – by Edyth Squier Draper. This short story was
originally published by the University Review, October 6, 1939, pp. 29-32. Use
your Find Function (CTRL-F) to scroll to it quickly. The quilt reference is
slight, but the story is pretty interesting.
Terry McMillan – has a short story titled, “Quilting on the
Rebound”. It can be found in:: The
African American West: A Century of Short Stories compiled by Bruce Glasrud
and Laurie Champion. ISBN: 0870815598 University of Colorado Press. Jan 2000; in
The Norton Anthology of African American
Literature, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay, editors. W.W. Norton
& Company, 1997 (pp 2572 – 2582); and in Dolores LaGuardia and Hans P. Guth,
American Visions: Multicultural Literature for Writers, pp 485-496