|Why this exhibition at
the Michigan State University Museum?
This exhibition grew out of several long-standing research and
educational activities at the Michigan State University Museum
that have been focused on the documentation and analysis of traditional
culture. The museum is particularly interested in documenting
and sharing the stories and work of artists who, because of race,
ethnicity, gender, economics, or politics, have not been widely
studied or presented. Many museum projects focus on quiltmaking
and on the ways in which traditional arts are used to convey information
on social causes.
For more information about the museum’s activities related
to these topics, go to www.museum.msu.edu.
About the Quilts and Human
This exhibition examines the ways in which textiles—especially
quilts—have been made and used to demonstrate solidarity with
movements dedicated to advancing international human rights, to
mark important events related to human rights violations, to pay
tribute to those individuals who have played roles in human rights
activism, to provide vehicles for the expression of feelings and
memories about human rights violations, and to engage individuals
in actions that will solve human rights issues.
About Quilts and Human Rights…
Textiles have long been used, mainly by women, as
a medium to express feelings, values, and experiences that reflect
upon and motivate action related to issues and needs in contemporary
society. Textile artists who use their skills to express issues
related to human rights do so in many forms and for many purposes.
In some cases, textiles have been produced by individual makers
who, working alone, simply wish to make a statement; others have
been produced by women working in organized efforts to subversively
or overtly protest against human rights abuses or to record the
histories and memories of individuals whose stories traditionally
are overlooked and under-recorded.
The Look of Human Rights Quilts
There is no one visual or technical style of quilts related to human
rights. Often, though, they are filled with symbolic and literal
depictions of experiences, beliefs, and statements and are intended
as visual messages rather than bed covers. Some quilts, however,
give very little, if any, visual clues that they are connected to
human rights; it is in their stories of why they were made and how
they were used that we learn of their deep connections to human