In 1985 I was invited to join a group of American artists and arts administrators forming a delegation, organized by People to People International, to tour the People’s Republic of China the following April. Since the purpose of the organization was to create understanding among people from countries with tenuous or strained diplomatic relations, it occurred to me that a traditional friendship quilt would be the perfect gift to take with me to China.
I proposed the idea to my local quilt guild, Prairie Star Quilters of St. Charles, Illinois, which drew quilters from throughout the western suburbs of Chicago. I found a book which had designs for traditional quilt blocks that represented the fifty states. I chose fabrics and drew the designs for each of the blocks, and distributed them to Prairie Star members in September of 1985. By November, the 50 blocks had been returned, and I assembled them into a medallion format, adding a traditional Prairie Star block in the center. Over the winter, the quilt traveled to various quilting bees, where it was hand quilted on frames by many additional quilters. I did the final feathered plumes in the center, to finish the quilting.
The quilt became the official gift from our whole delegation. Originally the plan was to present the quilt to the mayor of Bejing at our opening banquet. At the last minute, however, we received an invitation to the Great Hall of the People from a high level official in the Chinese government, who, it happened, had been educated at the University of Chicago. We made a formal presentation in the Great Hall of the People, and made the evening news all over China. The women holding the quilt in the picture are Dr. Judith Wray, the leader of our delegation, and the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado.
Exhibitions and Awards:
- Various public exhibitions in China
Publications & Media:
- Evening news in China
- American Quilter Magazine, 1987: Spring pp. 14-16 COVER & FEATURE