Celebrating Women's History

Celebrating Women’s History: Artists share stories through quilting with new exhibit

Celebrating Women’s History: Artists share stories through quilting in new exhibit

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Eiteljorg Museum is celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage with a new exhibit called “Quilts: Uncovering Women’s Stories.”

Women artists from different backgrounds and time periods are sharing their stories through quilting. The quilts aren’t your typical grandmother’s quilts and they weren’t made to keep you warm as each quilt explores the diverse experiences of women since the early 1800s.

“Sometimes the quilts women make are made to advocate for a political ideal or to raise funds for a political cause,” said museum curator Johanna Blume. “Sometimes a quilt is made for a dear family member or in a way that it brings their community together or forges bonds of friendship between women. Some quilts are made to express really unique aspects of a woman’s identity.”

Quilting is considered fiber art. Each woman’s emotions all sewn together whether it’s to tell a time in history or a rite of passage in their life.

“Every person that made one of these quilts used a form of expression and their heart and soul are in every single stitch that they made,” said local fiber artist Ann Luther.

Luther created a quilt called Great Grandmother which is currently showcased at the museum.

“She represents a story that I don’t think it’s told in our history books and that’s about the Romas or the gypsys and also the indentured servants,” said Luther.

The artist said her great-grandmother lived a life of persecution and the quilt took at least 40 hours to make.

“It’s supposed to be festive, but I wanted her image to be sort of sad and thoughtful within, but the fabric itself speaks festive and the flowers look festive because they’re considered festive people, musical and that’s why i have a musical instrument there,” mentioned Luther.

These examples of art were more than just aesthetics, but written records. Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi said she’s been making quilts for more than 40 years and it was a means of communication for those who didn’t have a voice.

“If we think in terms of history when Africans were first brought to this country they were not allowed to read and write so there needed to be other ways to tell their stories,” said Mazloomi.

The artists hope their quilts beckon viewers to come closer and see more than what meets the eye.

“The exhibit is a great opportunity to see fiber art and quilts in a way that people may have never even thought or seen them before and they truly are pieces of artwork and should be appreciated,” Luther said.

Click here to learn more about the exhibit.

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