Michigan Quilt Project
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The Cuesta Benberry Quilt and Ephemera Collection

Black Family Series #1: The Family of 3
Carolyn Mazloomi
West Chester, Ohio
60” x 54”
MSUM 2008:119.31, Gift of George Benberry
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved Michigan StateUniversity Museum

Aeronautics engineer Dr. Carolyn L. Mazloomi is acknowledged as being among the most influential African American quilt historians and quilt artists of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. In 1985 Dr. Mazloomi founded the Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN), the largest organization of African American quilt artists in the United States. In 2014, Dr. Mazloomi was honored with the 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship, one of the nation’s highest accolades for artists and champions of traditional arts  (http://arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/carolyn-mazloomi).

The WCQN (http://www.wcqn.org) provides African American quilt artists opportunities for professional development, networking, and showing their art in the United States and abroad. In addition, the WCQN is an important resource for research into African American quiltmaking and supports educational projects and workshops designed to have a social and economic impact for audiences of all ages, income levels, ethnic background, and learning abilities. 

This quilt includes stylized portraits of faces and their hands. The hands are enlarged to the point where they are larger than the heads of the figures. Mazloomi created a pattern similar to one found in African cloth by cutting away triangular portions of the white fabric to resemble Xs. This is to represent figures' clothing or robes.

By Mary Worrall

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