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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Heritage Awards

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Photo by Mary Whalen

Photo by Mary Whalen

Photo by Mary Whalen

Lula Williams
1997 awardee, Detroit (Wayne County), quilter

As a young child, Lula Williams (b. 1925) occasionally helped her mother with her quilting by putting colors together and piecing. However, she only returned to quilting in the early 1980s when her 13-year-old son encouraged her to take a course in it at his school; she remembered her mother's techniques almost immediately and has been quilting ever since.

Lula has made more than 120 quilts and won numerous awards. Her work reflects many traditions within her experiences. She is a needleworker keenly interested in the latest techniques and patterns; she is an African American committed to conveying information about her heritage; she is a woman of faith who communicates her beliefs through her quilts; she is an individual proud of being an American. One series of her quilts incorporates African cloth, paying homage to Martin Luther King, Jr. Another series is of red, white, and blue cloth with designs of stars and stripes. A special quilt, her original "I Am" design, depicts the several times Jesus utters "I am" in the Bible as well as the declarations of "I am" by African-American preachers in their sermons. She is perhaps best known for her baby quilts, of which she has made scores as gifts for family and friends.

Lula's excellent craftsmanship has won her a number of awards and invitations to participate in shows within the African-American community and beyond. In addition she has taught quilting for a number of years at the Evans Recreation Center on Detroit's northeast side, at the Michigan State Fair Senior Center, and at Detroit's westside Tindal Recreation Center and readily assists those who seek her help. She also has been recognized with awards of Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants to teach her skills to other aspiring quilters in her community. She has demonstrated her quilting at the Festival of Michigan Folklife, the National Folk Festival, and the Great Lakes Folk Festival.

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