Last year Pittsburgh Charms President Harriette Meriwether made a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa. This was not your typical trip. Meriwether, along with three other local artists, were among 43 quilters who paid tribute in textiles to Nelson Mandela during a quilt exhibition at the International Quilt Convention Africa, July 24- 26, 2014. The four artists from Pittsburgh who created a quilt for the exhibition included Mayota Hill, Meriwether, Elmira Sizemore and Pamela George-Valone.
The exhibition featured a total of 81 quilts created by artist from the Women of Color Quilters Network organization based in the United States, and quilting artist from South Africa, who came together to share their quilts in the exhibition, “Conscience of the Human Spirit: The Life of Nelson Mandela.”
Artists from around the world have long made quilts in tribute to those like Mandela, in support of the principles they stand for. So, when the planners of this exhibition said, “it was the South Africans and African Americans that made quilts in tribute to Mandela have special meaning,” it was true. Each expressed their delight in having this opportunity to showcase their work, share techniques, exchange contact information and be involved in similar future endeavors.
These diverse and powerful pieces reflect the way in which this remarkable man touched individual lives; how he changed the way a nation interacts with it’s people; and how he touched the conscience of many, throughout the world. The exhibition is said to be one of the largest of its kind anywhere, and brings together many talented and inspirational artist from around the universe.
Over 70 individuals (quilters, family and friends) from the United States traveled to South Africa to see the exhibition and tour many sites that included the home where Mandela grew-up, the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hall, The Nelson Mandela Museum, Robben Island Prison, an African Safari, Cape Town, and much, much more. Those who traveled to South Africa from Pittsburgh included June Green, Marlene Gary-Hogan, Charlese McKinney, Helen Anderson, Charles and Cynthia Franklin, and Harriette A. Meriwether.
A publication with the title listed above, also accompanies the exhibition that is sponsored by Michigan State University Museum, under the direction of professor Marsha MacDowell, PhD, and researcher, historian and founding director of WCQN, Carolyn Mazloomi, PhD.
The 51 quilts made by the U.S. quilt artists are now featured in a traveling exhibition. These diverse and powerful pieces can now be seen by many in this country.
Below is the schedule, at this time, for the display. Both of these locations are just a road trip away and you now have plenty of notice to put this in your travel plans.
•The Kentucky Museum, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Ky.
Sept. 8–Jan. 31, 2016; and
•National Afro American Museum and Cultural Center, Wilberforce, Ohio
April 7–Oct. 7, 2016.
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