Hello, and welcome to Project Heritage Quilt, the latest endeavor and mid-life journey back to my roots, my heritage, my legacy-oriented goals, and personal bucket-list quest to obtain my college degree.
In the middle of the pandemic, faced with Travel Advisor woes and nowhere to turn except to God and my heart for guidance, the ever-present Voice of Wisdom spoke, nearly audibly, "What's your excuse now, Amy? It's now or never." With that, I walked through the open door, feet first, as online education afforded me the opportunities that had once been out of reach due to health and circumstance.
The road has already been rough and rocky, much akin to the terrain of Appalachia itself; but a certain promise, the grit and tenacity of those whose blood courses through my veins, and the heartfelt desire to memorialize my precious Mommy Dorcie have served as guiding forces.
Half way through my journey to attaining milestone number one, Associate Degree in Visual Arts, (with ongoing efforts toward higher eduction in the interdisciplinary fields of art, sociology, psychology, economic development, and philanthropy) I have been given the distinct honor of being selected to participate in the Mellon Research Fellowship program. The fellowship's aim is geared towards exploration of Arts and Humanities via individualized interests, design, and concept. Through much reflection and preliminary research with focused attention toward my overall desire to leave this world a better place, I have been led to be an ambassador, a storyteller, a historian, and a keeper of our heritage through the promotion of cultural awareness and artisanship of our people, aka those of Appalachian descent.
I truly hope that you will be a part of this patchwork, stitching together our worlds, bridging past and present through quilting, tributes, and shared memories. May we all serve as teachers, mentors, and still, small voices, inspiring young and old alike to reach for the stars! Let us do our parts to create a "revival" of artisanship and sustainable socioeconomic development, stoking the furnace and fueling the fires in the land built on the backs of miners and coal miner's daughters...God's Country!
Please submit all pieces and registration forms by February 28, 2022. Don’t miss the opportunity to put YOUR stamp on Project Heritage Quilt!
Over the course of a lifetime, I have regarded my Southwest Virginia heritage with pride. Also, of great personal value and interest are the artisanship and skill among family and friends of Appalachian descent. The elements of time, talent, and love that go into a handcrafted piece cannot and should not be ignored.
I have also viewed what I feel to be lost economic opportunities and untapped potential. Perhaps fallen by the wayside, makers oftentimes simply consider their God-given talent more of a hobby than a skilled trade, devaluing their masterpieces, or reserving them only for gifting.
The stereotypical viewpoints of both outsiders as well as those represented by the inner circle of the Appalachian region itself appear, at least in part, to stem from the inherent bloodlines of hardened and oppressed mining families; encompassing a melting pot of varied ethnicities, Appalachians have faced unwarranted devaluing and depreciation throughout the history of the region.
The socioeconomic challenges of the area are easy to spot through a firsthand glimpse of its faltering townships. However, on the flip-side, some counties are beginning to turn a corner in the face of the barrage of wars being waged against fossil fuels, namely coal, the region’s lifeblood and primary source of income. Despite continual adversity, hearts and spirits remain constant - full of unwavering faith and unconditional love toward family, friend, and stranger alike.
Positive change to effectively narrow the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged communities is a necessity. Without a multi-faceted revitalization effort that is geared towards an interdisciplinary approach, the culture, heritage, and people of this land may be further suppressed, fostering stereotypical ideals and inferences.
We shall not let this happen. By the Grace of God, and through the representation of our culture and preservation of our heritage and history, we will continue to fight with a "Yes, we can!" attitude and responsibility that will carry us and the generations to come into a brighter, more prosperous future. This is OUR STORY; together, let us reflect upon the past and pen the pages of tomorrow.
How can the people and culture of Appalachia, more specifically, Southwest Virginia, be more equally represented through socioeconomic interdisciplinarity?
PROJECT HERITAGE QUILT has evolved through my participation in the Mellon Research Fellowship, an Arts and Humanities program for select college participants, as well as my quest to represent my personal heritage rooted in Southwest Virginia.
The interdisciplinarity of the scope of the project affords not only a tangible piece of needlework, but lends itself to storytelling, engagement, and affirmation for the people of Appalachia.
My desire is to have the final quilt displayed in a prominent location or exhibition that will carry with it the voices of the people whom it represents. Spreading cultural awareness through artisanship and historical recitation stands to engage and mobilize the community to a better place of being as the socioeconomic influences collide.
Outreach will be done through Facebook and other social media, a registration through a further-reaching database platform link, word-of-mouth, and local visits.
My hope is that the entire melting pot of cultures and ethnicities in the Southwest Virginia region and beyond will come together to create a masterpiece of historical, artisan, and cultural value. My belief is the story is not over for the people of Appalachia; it has only just begun.
Through the Mellon Research Fellowship project, which will likely evolve into a multi-faceted work, I hope to bring appreciation to the history, culture, and artisanship of Appalachia. And, in a more pointed focus, my desire is to lend a voice to the people of Southwest Virginia and a little town known as Pound, or, as locals call it, “The Pound.”
My final piece will be a quilt that will pay homage to my grandmother, Dorcie June Short Mullins, the kindest, most gracious, and beautiful human being to ever grace the hills of this land that I find myself connected to at the heartstrings. Due to circumstantial influences, not unlike many other of the region’s natives, my granny truly never understood her own self-worth and value, nor her impactful mark on our family. Eulogizing her, preacher, Willie Cantrell, summed her sweet soul up best, "I can't preach her funeral, she's already preached it." I hope to do her proud, memorializing her as well as so many others through craft, storytelling, and ambassadorship.
My interest in quilting was spawned by Mommy Dorcie’s creations for family and friends - beautiful patchworks that she lovingly sewed for each of us, commemorating special events in our lives, whether a birthday, marriage, or birth of a child - all masterpieces and treasured sentiments.
I had the pleasure of designing a pattern and being taught by her as a teenager some of the traditional stitching methods prior to her passing. Still today, I sleep snugly under a field of white polka dot strawberries, topped with a simple green-leafed cap, finished in her favorite color – red – a treasure for which, if offered, I would not take a million dollars in exchange.
Contact Susan Downs-Freeman at The Fabric House for all your quilting needs and ideas for your block! Hard copies of guidelines, and submission forms are also available at The Fabric House.
Susan is providing the fabrics that we are using for the stripping and cornerstones of Project Heritage Quilt. Be sure to see some samples in her shop if you're in town.
Terry Short is our On-the-Ground committee contact for Project Heritage Quilt. He will be collecting mailed submissions and getting them to the collaborative stitchers.
Please be sure to download all submission forms and follow instructions when mailing your pieces. All registration forms must be uploaded to the site and / or mailed with your pieces.
We welcome and appreciate all businesses, local or remote, to participate in the collaborative collection that will make-up our cultural patchwork. Together..."YES WE CAN!" Make a difference!
The more hands and hearts, the bigger and better our outreach, storytelling, and ongoing efforts shall be!
Online / Facebook Live
Site launch and registration opens! In order to include your handiwork, you must register to participate.
Don't miss this opportunity to lea...
Online / Facebook Live
In order to properly plan the final piece, knowing the number of participants, and obtaining a commitment to complete your block is an integ...
Local Drop-off or By Mail
Final pieces must be received by mail or local drop-off no later than February 28, 2022. Local drop-offs are evolving and will be updated as...
Local Drop-off or By Mail
Red was Mommy Dorcie's favorite color, and therefore the one color that I had always planned to incorporate into this masterpiece! It is in her honor that this project exists; her face, her hands, her heart, her talent, weaves a patchwork and befitting tribute to ALL Appalachians.
Here is a closer look at the chosen fabrics for the borders and cornerstones of the quilt. The black represents the coalfields, the backbone of our heritage; meandering mottled red tones serve a metaphorical reference to the bloodshed and bloodlines of the varied cultural melding.
The unbleached permanent press muslin (above left) is pictured with various complimentary red fabrics alongside the striking depth of what I am calling "Miner Black."
The creamy tone of the muslin as well as the slightly pilled texture lends itself beautifully to the patriotic Americana look and feel; it also allows the artisanship of the YOUR design to be the star of the show! As you can see, adding any shade of red to a piece on your block ties everything together, representing our collective hearts, the soul of "Our Appalachia," unique, tenacious, talented, and proud!
Commitment to participate is not required, however, we strongly encourage you to let us know that you are dedicated to being a part of the making of this collective heritage artifact. Together, "Yes we Can!" preserve Appalachian history and create our way to a brighter future!
PRINTABLE LAYOUT, INSTRUCTIONS, AND REGISTRATION FORMS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE. IN LIEU OF DOWNLOADS, HARD COPY FORMS MAY BE FOUND AT LOCAL DROP-OFF LOCATIONS.
Have a question? Send me a message, leave a number for callback or text, and I'll get back to you soon!