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Overview

The ten quilts in this guide suggest the range of the many styles, influences, and materials found within African American quiltmaking traditions. The quilts have many stories to tell of artistic innovation, triumph over hardship, and pride in heritage. It is important to note that these quilts are a small sampling of a much larger production, for many quilts have been lost to history. Each quilt is a product of its own particular social, historical, and personal context. For this reason, the text prioritizes the quiltmakers’ own words, biographical information, and descriptions of their working methods.

The resources listed below can be used to introduce the material to K–12 students as pre- or post-visit lessons, or instead of a Museum visit.
  • Information about ten quilts and the artists who made them
  • Language arts, social studies, math, and art curriculum connections
  • A selected chronology
  • A resource list for further study
  • A vocabulary list, which includes all words that have been bolded in the text

Quilt Basics
  • Most quilts are made of three layers: a top that is decorative, a middle of soft batting that adds thickness and provides warmth, and a back.
  • These three layers are stitched, or quilted, together.
  • The quilts included in this guide fall into two categories: pieced and appliqué. Pieced quilts have a top made of bits of fabric that are stitched, or pieced, together. Appliqué quilts have tops that consist of background blocks of fabric with cutout shapes of fabric sewn on top.

Note: The quotes from the artists featured in this guide were taken from personal interviews and therefore reflect the informality of that form of communication. As you read the quotes, listen for the richness of the spoken word and the rhythms that characterize the dialect of the American South.
 

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