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Home Sewn: Quilts from the Lower Mississippi Valley

Home Sewn: Quilts from the Lower Mississippi Valley

December 9, 2013 – February 1, 2015

Location: Community Gallery

Through the lens of four fancy quilts, explore layers of family history, artistic traditions, and entrepreneurship that enrich the fabric of an African American community in rural Mississippi.

Sisters Annie Dennis (1904-1997) and Emma Russell (1909-2004) grew up as fifth-generation quilters in Woodville, Mississippi. Russell shared her knowledge of quiltmaking and keen business sense with her friend and neighbor, Effie Bates Cooper. Though each woman created her quilts individually, Russell and Cooper became business partners.

Made between 1986 and 1990, these quilts represent classic American patterns and techniques. Fancy quilts are distinguished by recurring symmetrical motifs, decorative patterns, vibrant fabrics, and uniform stitches. They are often given as gifts, entered into quilt competitions, or unfolded and admired on special occasions.

A member of Daughters of Dorcas and Sons, a quilting guild in Washington, DC, shows her work in progress at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.