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For as long as mankind has lived together in groups, interlacing, weaving, sewing and all manner of work that starts with the humble thread have brought physical comfort and served as a means of expression. Threads explores the needle arts, including storytelling through quilts and textiles that speak to the creativity of the human spirit.

Faith Ringgold, Randall Darwall, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, and Terese Agnew– nationally acclaimed fiber artists who through story-quilts, fiber collages and woven textiles go beyond pure technique to tell us fictions and truths that pierce our sensibilities and hold secrets to the history of this country stretching from coast to coast. 

Sonny’s Quilt, © Faith Ringgold 1986, Courtesy of the Artist 

Faith Ringgold’s bold colors and forms express her strongly held, loudly expressed credo “Anyone Can Fly”. From a family of quilters she developed her craft, and even though a painter, author, teacher and feminist organizer, she is best known for her painted story quilts which regale us with rich and determined stories of African-American life. Ringgold works in many other media, such as a notable mosaic for the New York subway system at 125th Street in Harlem, where she grew up and taught for many years, bringing the proud history of African-American masters to a new generation. 

Faith Ringgold painting in her studio, Mark Markley photograph 

The clear light and bold sunsets on the Cape Cod beach inspire premiere colorist/weaver Randall Darwall’s sophisticated fabrics, which affect our intellect and emotions through visual rhythms and sensuous tactility. Darwall and life-partner of 25 years, Brian Murphy create a panoply of colors that fill their studio and dye pots – "Why use five colors when fifty will do nicely?" they ask as they joyously produce their unique and beautifully crafted scarves, shawls, quilts and clothing.

Randall Darwall & Brian Murphy, handwoven jacket, Mark Markley photograph


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Watch a 30 second preview of Threads.


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Craft In America Educational Materials look further at Threads as a concept in craft. Visit the EDUCATION section HERE > to see what's available and download a Lesson Guide.

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We filmed artist Faith Ringgold for the THREADS episode. Learn more about the series HERE >

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View addtional clips and images from Threads at pbs.org/arts

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