Ziibiwing Center Hosts Indigenous Quilt Exhibition Featuring MSU Museum Collection

The Michigan State University Museum is proud to announce the opening of an exhibition celebrating the rich tradition of Indigenous quiltmaking across North America. Everything That Exists Naturally on Earth: Indigenous Quilts from the Michigan State University Museum showcases quilts created by Indigenous artists, capturing the beauty of the natural world and the deep cultural significance embedded within their designs. This exhibition is on view April 22 – August 4, 2024, at the Ziibiwing Center in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.Indigenous quilts from the MSU Museum on display at the Ziibiwing Center in Mt. Pleasant.

These intricate quilts serve as powerful expressions of Native sovereignty, identity, and connections to community and family. Drawing inspiration from landscapes, animals, floral motifs, and traditional stories, each quilt tells a unique narrative of Indigenous cultural knowledge.

“The exhibition sheds light on the profound cultural importance of quiltmaking within Indigenous communities,” remarked C. Kurt Dewhurst, Curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the MSU Museum. “Quilts serve as more than just artistic creations; they are symbols of identity, resilience, and remembrance.”

Images from the natural world have long been incorporated into various forms of Indigenous art, including buffalo hides, porcupine quillwork, beadwork, clothing, and, more recently, quilts. Tracing back to the early 1820s, the introduction of steel needles and purchased cloth by missionaries and settlers catalyzed the evolution of quiltmaking within Native communities.

The MSU Museum Indigenous Quilt Collection is recognized as the largest and most diverse collection of Indigenous quilts in the world. Curated through a collaborative effort with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, Indigenous quilt artists, museums, and organizations across the U.S. and Canada, this collection stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Indigenous quiltmaking traditions.

“The Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways is honored to host this exhibition that amplifies Indigenous voices and honors their rich artistic traditions,” added William Johnson the Curator/Operations Manager of the Ziibiwing Center. “The MSU Museum’s collection is a great resource for creating connections and bringing awareness to cultural diversity.”

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program, MSU University Outreach & Engagement, MSU Native American Institute, MSU Museum, Ziibiwing Center, and the In-Stitches Quilting Group.

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