A quilter creates a quilt for many different purposes, like art, decoration, show, comfort. In other words, there are many different “threads” of quilting. Quilts as Tools for Resistance, is a great example of one of the “many threads” of quilting, working as acts of protest and activism.
Late February the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) hosted their annual international conference and quilt show. The Guild’s mission is to support and encourage the growth and development of modern quilting through art, education, and community. Through this convention, the guild works to bring quilters together and showcase their work, workshop new techniques, and build the quilting community,
In this Hyperallergic article, Quilts as Tools for Resistance, Renée Reizman explores some of the 350 quilts that were featured in 2018’s QuiltCon as acts of protest. People express their frustrations many ways, a recent example being the walk-outs happening in schools across the United States. We see artists and artisan crafters using their art forms to promote and voice their opinions. What better way for quilters to communicate their views than to use their craft? Reizman mentions ‘the MQG is continuing a very old tradition that dates to the 18th century, of using the quilt as a tool for resistance.’ Throughout history, we can see the use of quilts as an outlet, from Abolition and the civil war, the 1980s AIDS epidemic, and to the more recent mass shootings that have occurred. Quilting is one of many art forms that is versatile and has many techniques that the quilters can use to express themselves. Some of these techniques include patchwork, applique, paper pieced, embroidered, and memory/photo memory quilts. I will talk about these techniques is a later post pertaining to the techniques you will see throughout my exhibit.
This article and quilts that are used as activism tools transform the norms and stereotypes of the quilting world. Most people think that it is a craft/art that is used as a hobby by grandmothers and older generations that lived with different societal norms and beliefs than today. Reizman says “The quilts at the convention could be easily commercialized, and yet, these pieced-together phrases still combat the stereotype that quilting is an activity for your polite, but racist, grandmother left behind in flyover country.” These dramatic, unique, and inspirational pieces not only challenge the quilting conventions, but challenge people to think, debate, and educate themselves about the topics. In various shows across the U.S., many people requested or thought that these types of quilts should not be included or be removed. The guild stood by the pieces and allowed the pieces to stay. It is important that this genre or ‘thread’ is represented in shows because it initiates conversations about the art form and its position in activism, the specific piece and its details, as well as the topic that it is depicting or representing.
To quote one of the featured quilts from QuiltCon that is pictured below. “We Must Try.” We must try to expand our thinking through learning and creating. We must try to break molds and stereotypes. We must try to see the ‘Many Threads of Quilting’ and the ‘Many Threads of Life’.