EXPLORE, EXPERIMENT, ENTERTAIN
WRITER, ONLINE MYSTERY GAMES DEVELOPER, QUILT ARTIST
My quilt “Corona Virus Blues” is part of this book by Sandra Sider, the curator of the Texas Quilt Museum.
The quilt was inspired by a class with Alethea Ballard of Maverick Quilts. It uses many of the novelty fabrics I’ve been collecting since I began quilting in 1985.
The quilt describes what I did to cope with the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced me to stay inside for over a year.
My beloved beach was closed, I ate a lot of carbs and chocolate, and I quilted.
I wrote letters for the Sierra Club to make sure that Biden and Harris were elected.
Most of all, I made lemonade from life’s lemons.
WRITING: PUBLISHED IN THE WESTSIDE QUILTERS NEWSLETTER IN 2021:
WHAT ARE HMONG STORY CLOTHS?
Years before I began quilting, I purchased a Hmong story cloth at an outdoor art fair at Exposition Park. The story of daily life in a Laotian community half-way across the world decorated my white walls for a long time. But I never knew the significance of the story cloth until now.
My family watched the evening news from Vietnam every night at dinner. The statistics of soldiers killed in action were followed by anti-war protests from nearby Berkeley. When the US finally withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, the bitter stories of what happened to US supporters in surrounding countries were hidden.
The Hmong people were forced out of their homes in Laos and had to escape to refugee camps to save their lives. When they were resettled in the US, the women turned to making story cloths to help feed their children. View Hmong Story Cloths and Map of Southeast Asia
Some of the cloths told the story of the daily life of the Hmong before the war with scenes of fishing and growing rice. Others showed bombers dropping chemicals on farms and people, causing devastation and hunger. Farm and War Life in Story Cloths
Applique is the main technique with a turned edge. My cloth uses solid colors with a dark blue for the background, and an even darker blue for the border. Bright colors make people and their clothes stand out in contrast. The expertise of the Hmong embroidery in these cloths continues their tradition of detailed embroidery. History of Hmong Needlework
Many of the Hmong were resettled into the Pennsylvania area near Amish quilters. Since the Hmong women were expert artisans, some were recruited to help sew for the Amish quilting businesses. This arrangement benefited the Amish who had a strong demand for their traditional quilts, and the Hmong women who had few other job opportunities. Hmong Women Sew for Amish Quilters
Kao Kalia Yang, Hmong author has written many successful books about the experiences and culture of the Hmong.
Despite the pain of the past, today we can celebrate the outstanding talents of the Hmong immigrants who have contributed so much to the diversity of our quilting traditions.
NOTE: My intent with this writing is to open a window for quilters into global fabric art. As an art historian, I admire and respect the talents of fiber artists from all cultures.
My first art history class was with Samella Lewis at Scripps College in 1973. I was appalled to find out that most traditional art history classes focused completely on art from Europe made by men.
Art from Asia and Africa was ignored, despite its incredible beauty and deep cultural significance. The main art history textbooks didn’t even include any art by women.
Let’s all work together to celebrate art by women from every culture in our world.