I love quilts and quilting practices, and I am always looking for new ways to exhibit them. It is important to show people that quilts are more than covers or objects to be hung on gallery walls; they are often an index of relationships and social networks. That is why I got really, really excited when I heard that NedRa Bonds, my favorite Kansas City artist, and her friend Nancy Dawson were collaborating on a project with school children from Kansas City, Kansas. In fact, I was so excited that I was inspired to organize an exhibit in support of their endeavor.
The exhibition, titled Quilted Friendship: The Art of NedRa Bonds and Nancy Dawson, will be available for viewing from November 3 to December 15 on the first floor of the Miller Nichols Library. Three of the quilts in the exhibition are actually part of the Hero Quilt Project. They feature drawings of local heroes chosen from a list Bonds has been taking to schools in KC, KS. The idea is to teach the students there about local heroes so that they will have healthy role models. After the children learn about local heroes they have the opportunity to make drawings of their favorite heroes which Bonds then transfers to cloth so that they can be made into quilts.
In the final phase of the Hero Quilt Project Nancy Dawson and other members of her acting group will incorporate the Hero Quilts into a performance of If Da Dirt Could Talk at the Juneteenth 2014 festivities at the Old Quindaro Cemetery. There will be photographs of past performances in Quilted Friendship showing how the Hero Quilts will be used. The play, written by Dawson, recounts the life of one of her favorite heroes, Elizabeth Thompson. Thompson was a slave who ran to the free state of Kansas before the Civil War. She spent the rest of her life in Quindaro and raised a family; Dawson is also her granddaughter.
Quilted Friendship is a chance for people to learn about The Hero Quilt Project, as well as an opportunity for the children who have participated in the project to see their artwork in an exhibition right alongside the work of professional artists. In addition to the Hero Quilts that have already been completed, the exhibition will include quilts made individually by Bonds and Dawson. The opening reception will be Sunday November 3 from 3-5pm at the Miller Nichols Library on the UMKC Volker Campus. Please come and tell any quilt-lovers you know about it too!