Women’s Work: Appalachian Quilting

41st Annual Appalachian Studies Conference:

Re-stitching the Seams: Appalachia Beyond Its Borders

Millennium Hotel, Cincinnati, OH

Proposal Category: Paper

Type of Presentation: Arts and Art History

Subject: Women’s Work: Appalachian Quilting

Media Needs: Google Slides/Internet

Presenter: Ellen Georgi

Contact: ellen.georgi@fcps.org

Abstract: Stitching the seams of lives and stories into quilts.

Women’s work in Appalachia was and is demanding, but group work activities such as quilting provided a social gathering where women could create beautiful art while sharing stories of their days. Little attention has been given to the time women put into making quilts and textiles, but it was an expression of creativity not often catalogued outside of the family. As a culminating project for my participation in the 2017 Summer NEH Voices of the Misty Mountains Institute at Shepherdstown University under the direction of Dr. Sylvia Shurbutt, I created a story quilt to honor my Uncle Bob, a WWll airforce pilot and retired airforce colonel. By combining the neckties he had worn throughout his career, with the many people and places which had tied him to the earth, I stitched his story into a quilt that I can pass on to my family. My own mother learned much about her community as a child by sitting silently listening under the quilting frame. Modern quilting has become an expensive art form, with competitions in every state and region. Textile artists are now recognized as having a legitimate artistic voice rising out of the category of hobbyists or merely functional crafts-persons. By telling our stories we create community not only in Appalachia, but throughout our country. In my presentation I will look at the work of Appalachian quilters and the community and storytelling they foster as they practice their craft.