Quilt Display / August 16, 2018 / Roesia Merle.
It was not until the 1970s that this unique category of quilts came to be recognized and regarded as "official" by the larger quilting community. However these so-called experts while taking a step in the right direction inadvertently caused more harm initially. They stated that African American quilts in order to be categorized as such had to fall within certain narrowly defined parameters and made by black women who resided in a particular geographical region of the United States. This then meant that the vast majority of African American quilters were still left virtually unrecognized and unwelcomed into the quilting community as their work fell neither in the category of traditional quilting or within the newly defined category of African American quilting.
How does the story of each unique quilt begin? As a quilter commences her initial design work thoughts grow and develop from the design board to the sewing machine. Each of her children`s quilts tells its own story as the pieces are cut from carefully chosen fabrics sewn carefully into patterns. The story`s is illustrated through color design and texture. Whether the quilter has a special child in mind as she sews and quilts or if the quilter is designing and quilting for the love of her art either way the children`s quilts come to life step by step.
There is a vast collection of books on quilting in existence today. Spirits of the Cloth: Contemporary African American Quilts stands out among them. In this book Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi gives African American quilters an emerging group within quilting a voice to be heard and an opportunity to be recognized for their outstanding contribution to the field of both art and quilting. Not only does this book outline in detail the beginnings of African American quilting and how it has progressed through the years it also provides stunningly beautiful photographs of quilts in this genre.
With a preface written by Faith Ringgold and a foreword written by Cuesta Benberry also quilters writers and researchers within their own right Spirits of the Cloth can be considered to be an academic work within the field of African American quilting. As a quilter researcher writer historian curator and lecturer regarded as an authority on the subject Dr. Mazloomi`s scholarly work provides the uninitiated with a wealth of information on a topic virtually unknown before the latter quarter of the 20th century. The text highlights 150 quilts referred to by the author as the "stories" of the artists who created them.