Volunteers work on making tops at the Quilts Beyond Borders booth at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in November.
In a recent post about The UnOILed UnspOILed Coast Quilt Project, I wrote about the use of quilts to convey social, political, and religious points of view in support of various causes championed by their makers. Another type of cause with which quilts have become increasingly associated is that of disease awareness.
This was much in evidence at the most recent International Quilt Festival in Houston, where a variety of specially made quilts served as both a backdrop and the focus of a number of booths aimed at expanding knowledge about certain diseases. Most, if not all, of such awareness groups have a fundraising component.
Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) was founded in 2006 by well-known quilter Ami Simms. AAQI “is a national, grassroots charity whose mission is to raise awareness and fund research. The AAQI auctions and sells donated quilts, and sponsors a nationally touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's. The AAQI has raised more than $421,000 since January 2006.”
Girl Scouts set up a booth to promote their Patchwork Promise’s Sew Awesome for Girls 11-17 Project. The theme of the project is Women’s Health Issues, and it introduces girls to sewing and quilting by encouraging them to make items that are donated to those in need. The project has particular relevance to the group, since Juliette Low, the Girl Scout Founder, succumbed to breast cancer in 1927.
Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project “was established to educate the public about the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer through the artistry of quilting…Since 2002, quilters from MD Anderson’s Ovarian Cancer Support Group and the community have donated blocks to make quilts which are displayed each year at the International Quilt Festival in Houston…With the growth of the quilt project, an online quilt auction was launched in 2008. Due to the success of the first online quilt auction, which featured 68 quilts and raised $11,440, a second online quilt auction was hosted in October of 2009 which featured 107 quilts and raised $25,120.”
In addition to ovarian cancer, the project has grown to promote gynecologic cancer awareness in general, establishing colors to associate with and symbolize various types, such as teal for ovarian cancer, teal and white for cervical cancer, and teal and pink for the ovarian/breast cancer link.
Quilts Beyond Borders deals with Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). “Started in 2007
with the delivery of 230 quilts to HIV orphans in Ethiopia,” the group has delivered 850 quilts to Addis Ababa and another 215 to Haitian orphans to date. At its Festival booth, the group gave out 350 kits to be made into quilts for this effort and took in completed tops, fabric, and many other donations as well.
The Houston affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation set up a booth that featured a quilt in the foundation’s iconic pink color scheme. Information on breast cancer awareness, including causes, detection, treatment, and prevention factors were available for Festival attendees.
The prevalence of such groups at Festival underscores the fact that quilters in general have always had a strong affinity for altruism. This selfless desire to better the situation of others forms a common thread among those in the quilting community, and I can think of no other artform for which the same can be said of its participants.
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Column 141: Tom Korn’s Military Medal Quilts
Column 140: The Return of Double Knits!
Column 139: Passage Quilts
Column 138: Home of the Brave Quilts
Column 137: The Story of Fabric Yo-Yos
Column 136: Christmas in July
Column 135: Trifles
Column 134: Deaf Initiatives—Communicating Through Quilts
Column 133: My Betty Boop Quilt
Column 132: Maura Grace Ambrose
Column 131: All You Need Is Love
Column 130: Chicken Linens
Column 129: The Quilted Chuppah
Column 128: Patchwork Around the World: Yoruba Dance Costumes
Column 127: The Bowers Co-Op Quilts
Column 126: Fon Appliqué and Haitian Voodoo Flags
Column 125: The Quilt Garden at The North Carolina Arboretum
Column 124: Harriet Powers and Handful’s Mauma
Column 123: Quilters de Mexico
Column 122: An Appliquéd Surprise
Column 121: Matisse’s Fabric Stash
Column 120: Soogan—The Cowboy’s Quilt
Column 119: The Ron Swanson Quilt
Column 118: HClarkdale, Georgia—A Thread of History
Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
See other archived columns here