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Here you will find links to various art forms (painting, poetry, essays, short stories)
that use quilt related themes from an ethnic perspective.

Essays Paintings Poetry Short Stories


"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)

“Re-Crafting 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 Studies

Representing Mothers. 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.

"Surviving 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.

The Heart of Darkness in a Multicolored World: The Color Purple by Alice Walker as a Womanist Text: Extensive essay by Elena Shakhovtseva

The Power of the Hands: African-American Women as Shapers of Creative Expression in Adolescent Females : By Dr. Frances Hardy. She starts the article (which has quilting references sprinkled throughout) with a quote from Alice Walker:

"These 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 release"

The 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 that’s what I think he's saying since I only gave this a very cursory scan.

“The Rhetoric of Quilts: Creating Identity in African-American Children’s Literature” : Article by Olga Idriss Davis, African American Review. Spring 1998

Women's 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.

· The 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.

· The Story Behind the Stitches: Indian Women, Indian Embroideries: Extensive and intensive 1998 essay by Laila Tyabji. Also includes a discussion of Asia Society Quilts.

· Girls 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.


Alice Gatewood-Wardell - The Quilt (A Striking Pose)

Alonzo Saunders - Quilt of Quilts

David Fichter - Freedom Quilt Mural

Frank Smith - Improvisations from a Patch Quilt

Horace Pippin - The Domino Players

James 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.

·Four Sisters

·How I Got Over

·Quilting Party

·Seven Little Sisters


·Starry Crown

·This Little Light of Mine

·Three Quilters

Jon Onye Lockard

·Patchwork Quilt

Jonathan Green: Studied fabric construction. Most of his vibrant paintings relate to the Gullah culture in South Carolina.

Paul Goodnight

·Links and Lineage



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

·Hometime, 1970

·Patchwork Quilt, 1970 - Collage of cloth, paper, and synthetic polymer paint

·Prince Cinque (Maquette), 1976: 60" x 40" -Textile

·Quilting Time - 1979

·Quilting Time, 1986: Mosaic of Glass Tiles installed in the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. A poster of this piece can be purchased at Genesis Online (no affiliation)

Ted Ellis - Three Sisters and a Quilt

Varnette Honeywood:

· Adinkra Textile: Musical quilt pattern; Gouache on paper, 1993 [No image available]


Aunt 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.

Bible Quilt, circa 1900 - by Jane Joyce. This is a poem written about Harriet Powers and her Bible Quilt.

On 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

Sandra McPherson : Sandra is a renown poet who has collected quilts made by African Americans since the 1980’s. 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:

One 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.

  • An 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.

Examples of some of Sandra’s poetry:

- Esther Mack’s Utility Quilt With the Lights In It

- Mrs. Longmire Builds a Picket Fence and Talks to It

- Tents-of-Armageddon Quilt, Black Improvisation, 1980s

- Black Quilt from the 60’s: the No Blocks

- Finding the Quilter in Her Quilt

- Waterfall With Baskets, Summer Quilt

- Center. Strip and Medallion Quilt, 1890, by Mrs. Longmire

The Quilt of the Negro - by Avery Scott

Quilting: 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:

· Wishes for Sons

· Homage to My Hips - you can read the poem and listen to an audio clip of Lucille Clifton reading this poem

· Miss Rosie

· Poem in Praise of Menstruation

"King 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

"The Quilting" by Paul Lawrence Dunbar

Dolly 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.


Alice Walker. Everyday Use. 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.

Several essays that have been written about "Everyday Use" can be accessed online:

· Synopsis of the Story

· "Everyday Use": Defining African American Heritage - by David White. Published 2001 in Portals, Purdue North Carolina literary journal

· In Spite of It All: A Reading of Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” : This is an extensive critical essay by Sam Whitsett in the Fall 2000 African American Review.

· Personal Names and Heritage: Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" - by Helga Hoel

· Quilts and Art in Everyday Use - brief essay

Lil 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

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