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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 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards

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Lula M. Williams and Pamela Day
2013 master artist and apprentice
Detroit (Wayne County)

In 1997, Lula Williams received a Michigan Heritage Award in recognition of her prolific and excellent quiltmaking, her participation in Detroit-area quilting community, and her strong, active commitment to teaching others her quiltmaking skills and knowledge. Since receiving that award, Lula has continued her active engagement in making quilts and in teaching. She has produced literally hundreds of quilts, especially many of her signature baby quilts. She is an African American committed to conveying information about her heritage; she is a woman of faith who communicates her beliefs through her quilts. Her excellent craftsmanship has won her a number of awards and invitations to participate in shows within the African-American community and beyond. She has taught at Detroit-area senior centers and recreation centers, the Michigan State Fair, schools, and her church. She has also been a vendor in the traditional arts marketplace and a demonstrating artist at the Festival of Michigan Folklife, the National Folk Festival, and the Great Lakes Folk Festival.

Lula learned basic sewing and piecing skills from her mother but notes that, for many reasons, “quilting isn’t passed down as it once was and this apprenticeship is about younger women learning the art of quilting.” Apprentice Pamela Day, who belongs to the same church as Lula, has long wanted to learn quilting and says “I’ve followed her around for years trying to be a student” and looks forward to being able to learn “how to tell stories through my work and then pass this technique to younger people.”

-Marsha MacDowell

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