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The International Textile Collection


Portraits of South African Black Women
of the Anti-Apartheid Struggle

Fina Nkosi
Soweto, South Africa
2004
77.5" x 83"
Cotton
MSU Museum Accession 2004:134.1
Museum purchase as part of a South African Cultural Heritage Project
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved by MSU Museum

The quilt incorporates portraits of black South African women who the artist felt were instrumental in the struggle for freedom in South Africa. Depicted, left to right and with artist's original spelling in parantheses, are: (row one) Winnie Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Adelaide Tambo (Addelatte Thamo), Lindiwe [no last name give, but likely Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu], Thandi Modise; (row two) Nokukhauya Huthuli, Lillian Masediba Ngoyi (Lillian Mosediba Ngoyi), Princess Constance Magogo (Princess Contance Magogo), Dudu Masondo, Stella Sigcau (Stell Sigcawu); (row three) Dipuwo Hanni, Florence Mkhize (Florance Mkmize) Charlotte Maxeke, Dr. Ellen Khuzwayo, Princess Irene (Princess Irene); and (row four) Marry [sic] Nontolwane, Lillian Ntshang, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, Rose Givamanda, and Kate [no last name given, but likely Kate Molale].

Biographies of many of these remarkable women can be found at Imbokodo: Women's Struggle in South Africa (http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/governence-projects/womens-struggle/biographies.htm)

Fina Nkosi is affiliated with the Zamani Quilting Sisters, a group of women in Soweto, South Africa who, facing the double exploitation of racism and sexism, formed a self-help organization and women's resource center in 1987.

The quilt was acquired as part of a South African Traditional Arts project component of a larger South African National Cultural Heritage Training and Technology Program (SANCH) with grant support from the Andrew J. Mellon Fund and Ford Foundation. Led by the MSU Museum, the MSU African Studies Program, and MSU's MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, the bin-national project was conducted from 1997-2003 in collaboration with a consortium of other U.S. and South African cultural, educational, and government organizations and units. The traditional arts project component worked with South African colleagues to document and present South Africa's extraordinarily rich, diverse craft activity, especially that of the New South Africa.

The quilt was previously displayed at an exhibition of the Craft Council of South, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2004.

For more information about the MSU Museum's South African Traditional Arts collections, go to http://www.museum.msu.edu/s%2Dprogram/mtap/Collections/sata.html

For more information about the MSU Museum's extensive quilt collections, including other examples from Africa, go to: http://www.museum.msu.edu/s%2Dprogram/mtap/Collections/quilts.html A portion of the quilt collection is searchable at The Quilt Index (www.quiltindex.org)

By Marsha MacDowell




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