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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Heritage Awards

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Photo by Mary Whalen

Todd Family Quilt
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong

Close-up, Todd Family Quilt
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong

Deonna Green
1995 awardee, Remus (Mecosta County), quilter and teacher

Deonna Green (b. 1948), who learned to quilt from family members, grew up surrounded by the quilting traditions of her family and community. She makes quilts for many occasions, including birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and the births of family members. Within her community, she contributes to quilting efforts that provide for neighbors in need after fires and other disasters.

Since 1983, however, Deonna has combined her skill as a quiltmaker and her interest and love for her family and community in creating unique documents of family and community history. Her cousin, Ken Todd, first had the idea for depicting family and community history on a quilt and encouraged Deonna who enlisted the help of her mother, lone, and several other relatives to painstakingly research family genealogy and oral history. Records of family history were unearthed in archives in Lansing, Detroit, Washington, Maryland, and Kentucky and stories were collected of how the family eventually settled in Mecosta County. Deonna then led her family in designing and making a quilt based on their research. The resulting Todd Family Quilt illustrates, through embroidered text and images, the story of former slave--Stephen Todd, his wife--Caroline Kahler, and six generations of their descendants.

After completing two more versions of the Todd Family Quilt, Deonna continued to research area and family history and to make quilts recording her work. Since 1990 she has completed the Sawyer Family Quilt, the Green Family Quilt, and the Old Settlers' Quilt. Each quilt is painstakingly researched and executed; Deonna estimates that "it took her a hundred hours just to complete one block of a quilt." (1) These quilts and others have been exhibited in local, regional, and national exhibitions.

Deonna has also been generous in sharing her remarkable talents with others. She has demonstrated quilting at Wheatland Festival, the Festival of Michigan Folklife and the Festival of American Folklife in Washington, D.C. In addition to sharing her skills within the family, she has taught general quiltmaking techniques (in particular the steps of researching and producing a family history quilt) in museum and MSU Extension workshops and to 4-H groups and school classes in Mecosta, Lansing, and Detroit.

For an interview with Deonna Green, go to: http://www.museum.msu.edu/glqc/exhibits_Human%20Rights-3c.html and scroll down.

(1) Green, Deonna. Audio recorded interview with Marsha MacDowell. 26 January 1991.

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