PHOENIX (AP) – Every quilt has a story, and the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame wants to hear them.
It is compiling the stories behind Arizona’s quilts, asking people to bring their quilts to what the group calls documentation days across the state so it can put them into the Quilters Index, an online database for anyone engaged in women’s studies, socioeconomic history – or quilting.
“Every woman makes a quilt for a reason. Before women’s rights, before women had the right to vote, a voice to speak out, in almost any culture, the only way a woman could speak was through her art, and needle art in particular,” said Jan Hackett, one of 25 documentation volunteers. “So, antique and vintage quilts tell us about the life of a woman and her family.”
The project is not limited to historic creations. Quilts will be accepted for documentation whether they were made 100 years ago or yesterday and even if they were made in another state and brought here, Hackett said.
“Ten years from now, if I’m gone, somebody picks up one of my quilts and then says, ‘Why did she do this?’ … And I’m not there to tell the story. I document that quilt, and somebody will know that I chose the fabric for one reason, I chose the pattern for another,” Hackett said. “It tells about who I am.”
Darlene Reid, a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee who helped at a recent documentation day at the Gilbert Historical Museum, said, “The sad thing about women and quilts is they don’t document their quilts. The quilter remains anonymous.”
The Quilters Index, developed by the Alliance for American Quilts in partnership with Michigan State University, currently contains records for 45 quilts made in Arizona.
The Arizona Quilt Documentation Project really began in 1986, when 13 women from different parts of the state documented about 2,700 quilts and created an educational program called Quilt-Ed to help teachers use quilt-making to teach history, math, art, language, writing and vocabulary. The group also produced exhibitions and a book called Grand Endeavors.
All that information was only on paper, and the records were donated to Arizona Historical Society Museum, which keeps them in a box.
“Nobody knows about them; nobody knows that they are there,” Hackett said.
The volunteers will be converting those records to the Quilters Index, along with an additional 800 documentations that another group gave to the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott in the 1990s.
The documentation volunteers are also looking for museums around the state that may have quilt groups interested in scheduling a documentation day or presentation.
The documentation day at the Gilbert Historical Museum complemented its annual “Art of Quilting” show, now running through the end of May. Another documentation day is scheduled there on May 11.
Hackett said the volunteer, non-profit documentation project will be ongoing. To help defray some of the expenses, the group is looking for funding and planning fundraising. Another goal is to train volunteers in various parts of Arizona.
“We would like to see documentation days become at least an annual event all over the state,” Hackett said.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com
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