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Artist biography


Wallaceburg, Ontario

Among native peoples, quiltmaking has become a form of artistic expression that has meaning in the everyday and ceremonial life of the community. Even though the basic form, materials, and techniques of quiltmaking were introduced to native peoples through contact with European missionaries and traders, native quiltmakers have appropriated the art for their own individual and tribal uses.

Leda Johnson, a self-taught quilter, often uses the four- or eight-pointed Star pattern, one of the most widely used designs among native quiltmakers. The number four is powerfully symbolic in Native American culture, representing the four directions, the four stages of life, the four races of mankind, and the four sacred plants. Johnson favors the traditional colors of spring and fall. In 1992, one of her intricately stitched quilts was shown on the cover of the Nokomis Learning Center auction catalog.

Passing her skills along to the next generation is important to Johnson, who has taught quiltmaking to her daughter Bonnie. Together, they make quilts to use at home, to sell, and to give as gifts.

Like many of the "Sisters" participants, Johnson is a multitalented artist. She excels in the art of making sweetgrass baskets, which she learned from her sister-in-law. She is particularly skilled in the traditional techniques of identifying, harvesting, and preparing the sweetgrass and birchbark materials used in making the sewn, coil-construction baskets. Johnson sells her quilts and baskets at pow wows and in a shop located in her home.

Artist's work

Image of Star Quilt by Leda JohnsonObject measurements and display specifications:

Leda Johnson
Star Quilt, 1994
Pieced cotton/polyester-blend fabrics
80" x 80"
Sisters of the Great Lakes Collection
MSU Museum 7594.1

Star Quilt has been fitted with a velcro sleeve which adheres to velcro wooden batten. Batten needs to be screwed into gallery wall.