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African American History: American Quilts

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Richard Gardenhire

on 5 June 2013

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Transcript of African American History: American Quilts

African American History: American Pillow Quilting Initiative
Long before the advent of slavery on this continent, prominent civilizations in Africa were weaving the backdrop for African-American quilting as they preserved their aesthetic principles, religious and cultural traditions, and history within the patterns and hues of textiles that were often made by men. Symbolism and meaning continued
as a thread through quilts crafted
by African Americans during the days
of slavery and the Underground Railroad As seen here, the use of strips, reminiscent of the strips of reed and fabric used in men's traditional weave, are used in fabric quilting In Africa, the need to be able to recognize people from far distances was crucial for waring tribes and traveling hunting parties. This textile tradition of using large shapes and bright color were carried on, as exhibited in the quilt to the left. Traditional African weave was not regulated by specific pattern. The creator of the weave was free to change and alternate the pattern. The goal of the work was to create a large fabric of separate weaves sown together rather than one repeating pattern. The ability to recreate and change old patterns was especially important to many African tribes. A break in a pattern symbolized a rebirth in the ancestral power of the creator or wearer. And a break in a pattern also helped keep evil spirits away. Evil is believed to travel in straight lines and a break in a pattern or line confuses the spirits and slows them down. Black or African American history is always categorized in a time period for acknowledging achievements of African Americans. It is often set apart and viewed as a separate component of American history. This categorization, often set apart from American History curriculum's, needs to be reinstalled as a part of American history. Our class has attempt this through a Quilting project telling a part of the African American story as it is applied in quilting. Observing the tradition of African American quilt making is significantly more than reproducing a piece of functional artwork. Our quilted pillows embodies the core initiatives of our district mission while deeply reflecting a part of American history. In addition to aligning with our mission, this project will instill compassion, resiliency, determination, conscientiousness, cooperation, ingenuity and strategy building The 'Lakeside Y130 Quilt Construction' or 'Quilting Bee' will integrate all subjects covered in curriculums. African American quilting is encapsulated in the story of the American slaves’ untiring quest for freedom. In that story of freedom a great many Americans not of African origin were instrumental. Students learn of the practical and communicative utilities of Slave quilts. Our pillows are and expression of those quilts.
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