Skip to Content

A 9/11 observance

Textiles document or remember an event or experience
 
Michigan State University Museum has long-standing research and educational activities that have been focused on the documentation and analysis of traditional culture. Many of these activities have aimed to document and share the stories and work of artists who, because of race, ethnicity, gender, economics, or politics, have not been widely studied or presented by other individuals or institutions. A special emphasis of documentation has been the work of traditional artists who use their skills to express feelings, values, and experiences that reflect upon and motivate action related to issues and needs in contemporary society.
 
For many individuals, quiltmaking has served as a familiar mechanism to convey memories about personal and collective experiences. The tools and materials needed for making quilts are readily accessible and affordable and the skills and knowledge to create quilts are relatively easy and quickly learned. For some artists, the quilt is the accessible and preferred means of visually expressing their memories. Sometimes the process of making a quilt is a means to work through and heal emotional scars and to record and tell stories to others.
 
 
This textile featured here is from an MSU Museum-produced traveling exhibition, "Quilts and Human Rights," which first debuted in our Main Gallery in 2008.
 
Some artists focus their textile work on a single experience or event that often has become a symbol of human rights violation and activism. Quilts have been made, for instance, to depict the imprisonment and release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, the Mohawk incident at Oka in Quebec, the bombing of Afghanistan, and the student resistance in Tiananmen Square in China. While these document individual instances of human rights transgressions they also raise awareness of other similar transgressions.
 
9/11
Unidentified artist (or artists)
2002, Collection of Michigan State University Museum
 
In 1988, painter Irma van Rooyen organized the Kaross Workers, a craft-based economic development project to provide regular employment for wives of male workers-mostly Tsonga or Venda speakers-on the farm run by her husband in Letsitele, North Province, South Africa. Five women participated at first and, as of 2007, the number has grown to over four hundred and now also includes a few men. This piece, one of the many representations by artists around the world of the destruction of the World Trade Center in September 2001, illustrates the worldwide access via media that artists, even in remote areas, have to war related events.
 

 
And about other traveling exhibitions, where they are being shown, future availability and booking details: