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Students Imbue Quilts with Personal Touches

Seventh-graders work on display at Warren Library.

Students in Meryl Lettire's seventh-grade classes at Warren Middle School recently completed a study of American Quilts, including exploring the history of the quilts as an art form.

Throughout the years quilts were created primarily as utilitarian objects but over the centuries they were transformed by quilters into more personal artistic works. Within this lesson students had the opportunity to explore the role of women in the arts and how they transformed everyday objects into pieces of great personal value as well as artistic integrity.

Quilts were created for many different purposes including commemorating special events, documenting occasions, and telling stories about one’s own family history. Quilters worked alone as well as in social groups coined “quilting bees.”

Over the years many different styles of quilts emerged including Patchwork Quilts, Underground Railroad Quilts, Abolitionist Quilts, Slave Quilts, Album Quilts, and Crazy Quilts. Groups such as the Amish and Geez Benz became famous for their unique style of quilt making.

Students viewed quilts fromthe earliest blankets sewn by pioneer women to pieces of art which grace the walls of museums throughout the world. Students viewed Tar Beach and other noteworthy quilts by Faith Ringgold for inspiration.

Finally, students had the opportunity to create their own personal album quilt using fabric and paint. Students were encouraged to incorporate personal images and writings into their art which would reflect a significant personal memory. Students created works which tell a story about them, one which they can share with their own family as quilters have done for centuries. 

The students' handiwork is on display at the Warren Township Library through the end of December.

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