This week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight is extra special! Last Wednesday, the National Endowment for the Arts announced the winners of the 2014 National Heritage fellowships–the highest honor in folk and traditional arts in the United States. Among them was quilter and quilt advocate Carolyn Mazloomi, who founded the Women of Color Quilter’s Network in 1985 and has worked tirelessly to advocate for not only quiltmakers of color but all quiltmakers and lovers of quilts. Carolyn was interviewed in 2009 for the Q.S.O.S. project–read some excerpts from that interview about the WCQN and why Carolyn loves quilts, or check out the full interview here. Congratulations, Dr. Mazloomi!
“I started the organization as a means to let African American quiltmakers know about the cultural significance as well as the monetary value of their quilts. We started out with nine people and over the years it’s grown tremendously. One of the things that we do is present quilts, quilt exhibitions to museums around the country. We give workshops around the country to children and youth, try to interest them in learning to quilt because when you think in terms of the quilt population of African American quilts within the realm of quilting in this country, there are not that many of us so it is important to me to try and interest young people in learning how to quilt. That is very important, because I think about the future…”
“Quilts are important because, physical quilts are important to me because they give me joy, they bring me joy, they bring me joy. That’s the first thing and then the second thing I think about the historical aspect of quilts. I’m interested in recording that history, that is important to record quilt history because it gives us a window into American society, families and lives and social structure of people living here in this country. It is fascinating and it’s important. That’s what is important and then the quiltmakers themselves, people. There is just a wide variety of people that I’ve met and everybody brings something interesting to the table so that’s been an interesting point for me, meeting quilters of all races, gender across the country and sharing that common love of quilt making.”
“My legacy and so forth with quiltmaking will be the founding of the Women of Color Quilters Network and finding a recording the contributions of African American quiltmakers to American quiltmaking, especially for the contemporary African American quiltmaker. It’s important for me that I do everything that I can to record their works, to exhibit their works so that they have a place in quilt history.”
You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.