- - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Winter 2020

Inspired by
Endangered Species

Curated by Donna DeSoto

Many people collect quilts. And many quilters collect fabric. But quilter Donna Marcinkowski DeSoto takes it a step further. “I collect quilters!” she says. “I love the camaraderie I have found in this passionate group of artists.”

DeSoto—herself an avid sewist and quilter—has headed up four different large-scale quilt projects in recent years, including “Inspired by the Beatles,” “Inspired by Elvis,” “Inspired by the National Parks,” and “Inspired by Endangered Species.”

For each of the projects, DeSoto chooses a source of inspiration, and artists create their own interpretations of the theme…in quilted form. The resulting exhibit is then shown at venues throughout the country, including International Quilt Festival in Houston, where visitors got to see 111 of the quilts from “Inspired by Endangered Species” on display this past fall.

DeSoto became more interested in the topic of endangered species while researching for her previous project, “Inspired by the National Parks.” “It seems like not a day passes that I don't hear about another animal or plant species on the verge of extinction,” she says.

A total of 182 quilts were created for “Inspired by Endangered Species,” each representing a different endangered species.

“I am very excited that so many gifted fiber artists care so much about this topic, they eagerly created original pieces of art to call attention to the sad plight of these species,” DeSoto says. “Artists researched the species they chose to depict so that the renderings would be both educational and a call to action. These species need our help to protect and preserve them. Precious ecosystems depend on us to achieve a balance; a warning is sounded, and we can all help.”

In addition to quilt-related venues, the quilts from “Inspired by Endangered Species” have also been featured on display at the Library of Congress twice, after first capturing the attention of staff from the Science and Technology Division.

They are also all featured in a 280-page hardbound book, Inspired by Endangered Species by Donna Marcinkowski DeSoto (Schiffer Publishing). A portion of DeSoto’s earnings from the sale of the book will be donated to the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the WILD Foundation.

You can read more about the “Inspired by Endangered Species” project and exhibit here:

Special thanks to for their sponsorship of the “Inspired by Endangered Species” exhibit at the 2019 Quilt Festival in Houston.



Artist’s Statement: “Burrowing owls can be found in prairie landscapes with little vegetation. They nest in burrows like the ones in which prairie dogs live. I wanted to represent these gorgeous little owls in their habitat, so I created a whimsical, fun atmosphere in my quilt. We want these babies to be safe in their environment and to flourish on our planet.”


Artist’s Statement: “I was inspired to create an art piece for the call for entry of Endangered Species because I want to help bring awareness to the critically endangered and rare species Dama Gazelle. If we do not change laws and increase awareness, we will continue to lose animals and plants from our planet.”


Artist’s Statement: “I am drawn to the beauty of nature and the majesty of the big cats. I hope you will look into my jaguar’s eyes and be inspired to help preserve this magnificent animal.”


Artist’s Statement: “Each type of zebra has its own distinguishing pattern of stripes, and it appears that some collectors would like to have one of each. As I researched the different subspecies of zebras, I was greatly saddened by the pictures of their lovely pelts, stretched out over a frame or covering someone’s floor. The zebras, in my quilt, are meant to look sad.”


Artist’s Statement: “Over the last decade, I have traveled to the edge of the Arctic Circle four times to photograph the polar bears in Churchill. Over the years, it has become evident that the bears are suffering, not just from climate change, but also from the toxins in the environment. I was inspired to make this quilt at the time of the solar eclipse, after I photographed this bear on one of my trips.”



Artist’s Statement: “Scaly, shy, and charmingly sweet-natured, Sunda Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world. Skins are manufactured into leather and scales used for medicinal treatments. Prehensile tails and thick claws help ascend them into dense Asian arboreal habitats, feeding on ants’ nests or termite mounts with no teeth and a tongue as long as their body.”


Artist’s Statement: “The Ultramarine Lorikeet is now found on only one of the Marquesas Islands, Ua Huka. It has become endangered due to deforestation and the invasion of the black rat. The Ultramarine Lorikeet nests in tree cavities and prefers to feed on the flowers from the coconut palm and hibiscus. Currently, there are only 1,000-2,500 individual birds left on Ua Huka.”

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