Quilts for Good
At each edition of Quilt Festival, we have the privilege of providing booth and exhibit space to non-profit organizations that use sewing and quilting as a way to give back to the community, and artists who use a needle and thread to communicate important social and cultural messages.
Among the long list of special exhibits and interactive booths at this year’s Quilt Festival in Houston are the selection we’ve highlighted below, all of which are using the quilting artform as a tool for enlightenment, engagement, and inspiration.
OURSTORY: HUMAN RIGHTS STORIES IN FABRICS
Organized and curated by Susanne Miller Jones
In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which delineated the rights to which all humans in all countries should be entitled. Nearly two decades later, the United States enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin. Additional protections have been added in the years since through a variety of legislation.
Maya and Son by Denise Currier (left)
The call for “OURstory” quilts asked artists to consider several questions: What right is most important to them? With which group that struggles to get those rights do they most identify? Which leader of a human rights movement is their hero? What is their story, struggle, or victory?
The resulting collection of 60+ art quilts—created by artists from six different countries—tells the stories of disenfranchised people and their fights for equal rights, and celebrates the heroes who fought for rights long denied to various groups of people and drew the attention of news media and the public.
April 27, 1994: Mandela Votes by Margaret Williams (right)
Visitors to this year’s Quilt Festival in Houston will have the opportunity to see 42 of the incredibly moving “OURstory” quilts on display in our special exhibits, along with the artist’s statement describing the significance of the people and/or imagery included in each artist’s quilt.
EQUILTER’S LOVE YOUR MOTHER QUILT CHALLENGE
Sponsored by eQuilter.com and BERNINA
eQuilter.com sponsored a quilt challenge and contest that asked artists to use a designated digital printed panel—featuring an image of the Earth surrounded by a rainbow mandala—to create a work that expresses their thoughts and feelings about Mother Earth and current environmental issues.
Potential topics included wildlife habitats (land and sea), indigenous peoples, rainforests, pollinators, Arctic/Antarctic, endangered or threatened species, clean water, or other matters closely associated with the theme of “Mother Earth.”
The ensuing 17-quilt exhibit is intended to raise awareness and inspire others to “Love Mother Earth.” Visitors at this year’s Quilt Festival in Houston will have the opportunity to see all 17 quilts on display, and find out how each artist interpreted the theme and reinterpreted the panel print (pictured).
SOCIAL JUSTICE SEWING ACADEMY
The newest addition to our interactive/non-profit booths at Quilt Festival in Houston is the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Founded in 2017, SJSA is a youth education program that strives to “bridge artistic expression with activism to advocate for social justice.” The program empowers youth to use textile art as a vehicle for personal transformation and community engagement through a series of hands-on workshops offered in schools, community centers, and prisons across the country.
From the organization: “Many of our young artists make art that explores issues such as gender discrimination, mass incarceration, gun violence, and gentrification. The powerful imagery they create in cloth tells the stories, and these quilt blocks are then sent to volunteers around the world to embellish and embroider before being sewn together into quilts to be displayed in museums, galleries, and quilt shows across the country. The visual dialogue bridges differences in race, age, and socioeconomics and sparks conversations and action.”
JUST WANNA QUILT
Also new to the interactive booths area at Quilt Festival in Houston this year is Just Wanna Quilt, coordinated by Tulane Law School and Dr. Elizabeth Townsend Gard. On the surface, this podcast and community (termed the “Quilting Army”) is about celebrating a love of quilting and the different kinds of people who share it. But at the heart of Just Wanna Quilt is the important issue of copyright law and protection for quilt artists and designers.
Dr. Gard, a professor at Tulane Law School, began the project and podcast as part of a research endeavor that has since evolved into something much more. For the Just Wanna Quilt podcast, she interviews famous quilters, business owners, historians, lawyers, inventors, and quilters.
They will be on-hand at Quilt Festival in Houston to share information on copyright, trademark, and entrepreneurship, and to recruit new members of the Quilting Army and share their stories. Stop by their booth to tell the organizers your story and why you “just wanna quilt.”