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Quilted Conversations: Materializing Civil and Human Rights

Awareness about civil and human rights issues are at the center of a new exhibition opening at the Michigan State University Museum on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 16. Quilted Conversations: Materializing Civil and Human Rights features 16 provocative quilts drawn from the MSU Museum’s collection.

“Quilts are objects that are very familiar to many people. Quilt artists are uprooting traditional connotations of what a quilt is to make powerful statements about civil and human rights. We hope that viewing and reflecting on the quilts will prompt visitors to share and discuss—leading to ‘quilted conversations,’” explains Mary WorrallMSU Museum curator of cultural heritage, who organized the exhibition along with the MSU Museum’s Dr. Aleia Brown.

The quilts included in the exhibit are intended to spur conversation, serving as touchstones to encourage dialogue and contemplation. Some quilts honor champions of human rights, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., while others document the struggles of individuals who have been punished or tortured and even lost their lives due to social injustice.  Other textiles document events and experiences in contemporary history and show the creative act of quiltmaking as a means of storytelling. Topics explored by the quiltmakers include marriage equality, Holocaust survivors, the Flint foreclosure crisis, and many other thoughtful civil and human rights issues.

Also highlighted in the exhibit are two of the recently completed Project 60/50 Quilted Conversation Community Quilts which consist of quilt blocks made by community members addressing issues related to civil and human rights.

The Michigan State University Museum has become internationally known as a center of quilt-related scholarly and educational activity, including the Quilt Index (quiltindex.org), an online tool for centralized public access to quilt and quilt-related materials.

Programs on tap:

Monday, January 16 at 4 p.m.
Opening reception and student performance in conjunction with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at MSU. This year’s theme: “The Art of Nonconformity: Dissent and Civil Discourse.”

Saturday, February 4 & Sunday, March 12 at 2:00 p.m.
Curator-led exhibit tours

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