Art Resources

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

Short Stories


“Appalacian Artistry: Quilting Co-op Provides Vital Income for West Virginia
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

Womanist Text:

Extensive essay by Elena Shakhovtseva


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:


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 that’s what I think he’s saying since I only gave this a very cursory



Rhetoric of Quilts: Creating Identity in African-American Children’s


: 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.




The Quilt (A Striking Pose)


Saunders – Quilt

of Quilts


Fichter – Freedom

Quilt Mural


Smith – Improvisations

from a Patch Quilt




Domino Players


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]



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 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:


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.


of some of Sandra’s poetry:


Mack’s Utility Quilt With the Lights In It

Mrs. Longmire

Builds a Picket Fence and Talks to It


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


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:



for Sons



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.



Walker. Everyday


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

literary journal



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.



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