Michigan Quilt Project
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The African American Collection

Snake Quilt

Snake Quilt
Lucy Mingo
Boykin, Alabama
Wool with wool filling
61 3/8” x 91 3/8”
MSUM 2014:55.62
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved Michigan State University Museum

In the 1990s, the Women of Color Quilters Network commissioned quilts to preserve the Freedom Quilting Bee and the Gee’s Bend quilters’ style and their legacy in the Civil Rights Movement. Women from both groups lived and worked in Wilcox County, a small outpost in Alabama’s Black Belt region.

With bold colors and lines, Lucy Mingo’s commissioned Snake Quilt captures the aesthetic both groups popularized in the 1960s.

Through the Freedom Quilting Bee, Mingo encouraged women to use quiltmaking in support of Black people gaining full citizenship in the United States. Under her leadership, the group also marched in Selma, Alabama demanding the right to vote. The co-op’s fiber art sales supported blacklisted activists. In 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Mingo and three other quilters from Gee’s Bend the National Heritage Fellowship for their contributions to traditional arts.

Snake Quilt is part of the Carolyn Mazloomi-Women of Color Quilters Network collection at the MSU Museum. Comprised of 88 quilts, the collection presents nuanced perspectives on Black history and culture. Rich in both artistry and narrative, many of the works have been exhibited throughout the United States, and abroad.

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