When you think about Native American art, what comes to mind? Perhaps beading, pottery, or basket weaving? What about quilt making?
Quilt making, relatively unrecognized as Native art, flourishes across the state of Kansas, Now, with the 05/15/08 opening of the exhibition Native Threads at Stockton Public Library, visitors will experience this nearly invisible cultural and artistic legacy.
Originally, quilt making was an art form learned by Native American women during the nineteenth century from white settlers and missionaries. Native American quilt makers creatively incorporated their own designs into their quilts and used colors that have symbolic meaning to their tribes. Gradually, quilt making became a traditional art form, and Native American Kansans continue the practice today. Native Threads features twelve full-size quilts and additional small works by some of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University.
According to Murphy, these quilts are traditionally not sold, but instead serve a variety of purposes and functions within the community. Some are used functionally as alter cloths, room dividers, bed covers, sweat lodge coverings and burial shrouds.
Others are offered as symbols of respect. They are featured at raffles, given as gifts at ceremonies, births, graduations, basketball games, and funerals as tokens of honor. Native people believe that giving such honorable gifts away is a sign of being thankful. Sharing in such a generous manner reflects well upon the family.
Learn more about Native American quilting and tradition by visiting the exhibition through June 20, 2008.
Stockton Public Library Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, & Thursday - 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Wednesday & Friday - 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Native Threads is organized by the Kansas Arts Commission and toured by Exhibits USA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid-America is a private, nonprofit regional arts organization based in Kansas City, Missouri.
A few other local organizations that assisted the Stockton Public Library are: The Pat Berkley Taylor Fund, The Stockton Arts Council, The Crossroads Quilters Guild of Stockton.