The MSU Museum is featuring the quilt titled The Tree of Peace Saves the Earth by Alice Olsen Williams. On view now until November 22, 2023. This extraordinary quilt stands as a powerful testament to the transformative nature of art and its role in education and activism, particularly concerning Indigenous issues.
The Tree of Peace Saves the Earth is from the MSU Museum’s collection, created by Alice Olsen Williams in 1990, an Anishinaabe/Norwegian member of Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario, Canada. Inspired by a land dispute in Quebec involving indigenous grave sites and sovereign land, Williams crafted this quilt to raise awareness and educate others about this pressing issue. The quilt employs powerful symbolism to convey the story it represents.
Alice Olsen Williams is an acclaimed quilt artist whose works have been included in numerous exhibitions across the United States and Canada. Her dedication to Indigenous issues and her commitment to using quilt making as a means of raising awareness are truly commendable. Williams collaborated with community quilters to create the quilts: Where Are the Children? Healing from the Legacy of Residential Schools and Sisters in Spirit, both addressing the plight of missing Indigenous children and women, as well as the pain endured by Indigenous individuals affected by the enforced residential school system.
The Tree of Peace Saves the Earth invites visitors to experience the power and beauty of Alice Olsen Williams’ work. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggles faced by Indigenous communities and highlights the resilience and strength of their cultures.
“The Tree of Peace Saves the Earth is an exceptional testament to the power of art in addressing crucial issues affecting Indigenous communities,” said Marsha MacDowell, exhibition curator and MSU Museum curator of folk arts and quilt studies. “We are honored to display this quilt alongside the Smithsonian traveling exhibition, Knowing Nature: Stories of the Boreal Forest.”
In conjunction with exhibition, Knowing Nature: Stories of the Boreal Forest, the quilt serves as a companion to the themes of the Smithsonian traveling exhibition. Knowing Nature, which premiered at the MSU Museum on April 19, uncovers the biodiversity and global importance of the boreal forest through compelling first-person stories. Visitors are taken on a transformative journey, from climate awareness to action. Knowing Nature is on view at the MSU Museum through November 12, 2023.