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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 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards


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Gwendolyn Carmichael and Niya George
2016 master artist and apprentice
Detroit (Wayne County) and Farmington (Oakland County)
African American quilting


Gwen Carmichael is a resident of the Rosedale Park neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan, where, as she states, "city living is the best." She is an active member of the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, which is where, in the late 1990s, she joined the Hartford Memorial Wednesday Night Quilting Sisters. The group meets weekly to create quilts and craftworks of all kinds. Gwen has been working with textiles since she was a little girl. Her mother was part of a quilting group in her hometown of Brighton, Alabama, and tasked Gwen with threading needles and pressing fabric when the group met. Her high school home economics teacher introduced her to machine sewing and, from there, she "became smitten with fabrics." She has shown her creations at Hartford's Biennial October Quilt Show, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Diversity Program, the Chrysler Corporation, and at shows, workshop, and retreats in the Detroit area. She had her first solo show in September of 2015.

Gwen met fourteen-year-old apprentice Nyia George through their church. Niya was making baby blankets for a local hospital in order to earn a Girl Scout badge and sought help from Gwen. This interaction inspired Niya to learn more about quilting and its role in her own culture. She hopes to continue to cultivate this skill and to carry this tradition forward throughout her life.

-Micah Ling


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