Black Quilters: Historians and Memory Keepers
The act of making quilts has long been a survival skill, an art, and a communication tool. Through this meaningful art, Black quilters have been sharing their stories even as many have tried to minimize or omit Black Americans' contributions to U.S. history.
This selection of documentaries spotlight the role of Black quilters as history tellers. Listen to quilters talk about the significance of their work and see how the quilts depict images and words with various techniques such as appliqué, piecing, and stitch work that keep history alive for generations.
From Reel South:
In a time when books are banned and discussions around race are curtailed, Karen Hinton Robinson takes on the responsibility of teaching Black history beyond the institution. In this mother-daughter interview, the historian and skilled quilter explains how her craft is used to supplement education by creating quilts that document the important figures of Black history, missing in Texas schools.
A Brief But Spectacular take on piecing past to the future
Vera Hall is a quilter and seamstress based in Baltimore and for decades has crafted a wide array of items. Recently, she decided to combine her artistry with her desire to learn more about her ancestry by creating powerful quilts depicting Black history. Hall shares her Brief But Spectacular take on piecing the past to the future.
A Look at Bisa Butler's Quilter Portraits at Art Institute
From Chicago Tonight:
History, music and photography are all stitched together in a show at the Art Institute of Chicago. We visit the pandemic-delayed exhibition “Bisa Butler: Portraits” to get the story behind these Technicolor textiles.
Quiltmakers of Gee's Bend
In 2004, Alabama Public Television made a documentary that told the history of the area known as Gee's Bend. It also followed the famed Gee's Bend quilters to The Milwaukee Art Museum, where their quilts were being exhibited.
These days, the craftsmanship of the Gee's Bend quilters can be found on the runway and available for purchase online. Newshour interviewed the quilters in 2022.
Quilter Michael A. Cummings
From the QUILTS episode of Craft in America:
Quilter Michael A. Cummings is inspired by jazz. Working in the narrative tradition, Cummings and his sewing machine tell stories of the African American experience across historical, cultural, philosophical and mythical realms. Segment from the QUILTS episode