Friday, 20 April 2012

Speak, Connect, Quilt!

Stories in quilts. Photograph courtesy of The Quilt Gallery
The masterpieces of artists are said to be parts of themselves on canvas, or in this case - quilt. In Portraits of Perseverance, Nisha, Sulastri, Lucy and Pong created a beautiful quilt that told their individual story, yet drew the same message of hope and perseverance. 

They made quilts in times of suffering, to express the ups and downs of a life plagued by disease or to raise awareness about a certain issue (such as incest). As our Portraits of Perseverance women used quilting as an outlet of expression for their unique struggles, many people in the world use it to express their own unique troubles.

Apparently, the art of quilting has dated as far back as the days of ancient Egypt. Since those days, groups of people have gathered together, each stitching their square of cloth, and finally assembling them together to form a diverse quilt.

Some make quilts to express support in rough times, like in the case of the Quilt of Valor, which was made to honour soldiers in the United States.
Quilts are also made as love offerings, for any special occasion. A baby shower gift. A wedding present. The possibilities are endless!

As traditionally, quilting is mostly done by women, it is seen as a way to connect and empower women. In a literal sense, a group of women connect with one another while working on a quilt - spending time chatting, sharing small talk and experiences. At the same time, young girls could work on the quilts with older women and learn many life lessons and homemaking skills, first-hand! Even more so for the womenfolk of small communities. It helps create a tightly-knit sisterhood bond.

Photograph courtesy of The Quilt Gallery.

In many impoverished nations, such as Nepal and Uganda, any extra income a woman can make would be of great help to her family. With several of them not having received formal education, and many not trained with job survival skills, quilting and selling the handmade quilts would not only generate a little cash, but it also can give the women a sense of responsibility and empowerment. 

Quilting enables women to speak up! It gives them power to express their innermost thoughts - by quilting pictures or symbols of their feelings. (People say girls are sensitive creatures so I guess this whole "expressing feelings" thing comes easier for us than it does for men!)

On the 8th of March this year, 11 advocacy quilts were shown at the United Nations headquarters in conjunction with International Women's Day. They can shed light on world issues. They can speak up for a cause and give their support. Not just on a small scale, but on an international scale. 

Even in these modern times, many still deem quilting as a "woman's job", something done by the weaker sex.

Yes, people can say it's a woman's job. But they should take a look at how women use it to do so much, and realize women are most definitely not the weaker sex.

With the little act of quilting, women can make pretty home decors AND be empowered at the same time!

by Junmey

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