Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Threads in the Fabric of Society: Patriotic and Political Quilts

During this presidential election year, political quilts gained popularity and can be seen across the U.S. in exhibits, most continuing through to the end of the year. A special exhibit at the International Quilt Market in Houston featured several exciting examples, including the one pictured here by Marjorie E. Johnson and titled "Get Out the Vote and Save America."

Politics and quilts have a long history. So many of the traditional quilt patterns were named for political races Tippecanoe, 54-40 or Fight, Whig Rose.... This site offers discussions and connects to links associated with political or patriotic quilts. It shows how quilts are "an important thread in the fabric of our society."

Two current exhibits:
  • The Heritage Center Museum in Lancaster, PA "Patchwork Politics: From George to George W." features a large private collection of politically themed quilts, textiles and memorabilia.It will continue through Dec. 31, 2008. The Philadelphia Inquirer offers an informative article about the exhibit.
If you're interested in finding more political quilts or historic quilts or wish to pursue your own quilt research, the online Quilt Index offers thousands of quilts, documentation, information and ways to search according to your needs. "The Quilt Index represents years of research and development to bring together quilt information in a centralized online tool for education, research, and public access. The Quilt Index was conceived and developed by The Alliance for American Quilts and implemented in collaboration with Michigan State University's MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online and the Michigan State University Museum."

Lori Creel has written an article about some of the quilts available through the Quilt Index including one that belonged to Abigail Adams, one used to raise funds for the Ku Klux Klan and a long list of amazing quilts linked to historical events.

Fundraising quilts also made political and patriotic statements and were used for all kinds of causes as mentioned above to raise funds for KKK. Whatever the need, community, Red Cross, disaster relief, you name it. This site maintained by the Nebraska State Historical Society offers photos of the fundraiser quilts and a brief description -- interesting. Very interesting.

And a list of political quilts and activist quilters could continue for many pages, but it wouldn't be complete without mention of the Boise Peace Quilt Project which has been going strong since 1981.

And if you haven't voted -- why not!

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