'Cloth' written as if quilts could talk

Saturday, December 26, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

[Three Women]
"Three Women," a quilt by Julianne McAdoo.
Some of them tell the stories all by themselves.

But in her book, Spirits of the Cloth -- Contemporary African American Quilts (Clarkson Potter; $40), Carolyn Mazloomi nudges creators of 150 of her favorite quilts "to expand on the stories that stand behind each piece."

And they do.

In "The Color of Christmas," Julia A. Payne of Denver positions Santa in the quilt's center, surrounded by a rocking horse, toy soldier and wrapped packages. But there's a handgun in one corner and paper money scattered throughout the design, even spilling off the irregular border.

"There is too much greed, ungratefulness, loneliness, debt and so on associated with a holiday supposedly celebrating the simple and pure joys of giving and receiving," Ms. Payne says. " 'The Color of Christmas' is my protest against this."

The book celebrates the artistic tradition of African-American quilts, says Ms. Mazloomi, a noted quilter from Forest Park. Sixty three artists -- men and women -- are featured.

One quilt, "Kwanzaa Quilt," by Roland L. Freeman of Washington, was made in honor of the African-American holiday starting today. On it, a collection of small symbols, including a kinara (candle holder) are clustered in the center. Patterned borders are done in oranges, greens and black.

Ms. Mazloomi's book is organized by the messages behind some of the quilts. Chapters include: Visions of Africa, Memories of Home, Healing: A Balm in Gilead, Sacred Space, Social and Political Protest, Praise Songs.

In her "Requiem" quilt, Carolyn W. Cameron of Kansas City, Kan., presents vertical flowing strips in predominantly reds, oranges and yellows, made from her father's ties.

It "honors the many ways my father was important to me and to the many lives he touched as an early proponent of equality and civil rights," she says.

"Three Women" by Julianne McAdoo of Pittsburgh is "dedicated to African-American women whose voices are strong yet vulnerable; proud yet humble; speaking yet listening." In creating it, many fabrics were cut apart, then sewn back together for added dimension. Patricia Johnson, of Hampton, Va., who designed "Fish Fantasy," says, "Some people confine spirituality to a book or church and fail to recognize the ever-present spirituality of their natural surroundings . . . When we open ourselves to nature's beauty, power and intricacy, then spiritual lessons will come to us with little effort."

Frances Hare of Rochester, N.Y. created a whimsical piece in "Come Into My Garden."

"I've often dreamed of having a garden or space where I could go and find peace and feel bliss," she says. "There would be birds carrying fanciful things, and the plants would have leaves that billow against soft winds.

"I would contemplate there. I would read there. I would heal there."

Local Headlines For Saturday, December 26, 1998

Coming soon: safe water
Computers big part of schooling
Deerfield annexation fight looms
Dr. Carl Kumpe, 86, physician
Federal judge criticizes magazine for breaking law to get credit story
Food pantry able to fill all requests
Friends plan march on city hall in support of wheelchair desperado
Heckler disrupts church's first service
Holiday special for foster family
Horses once again ride on Kentucky cars
Kids knew Laverne Schmiedt as 'Aunt Tubby'
Lebanon recognizes businesses
Library system grows with Boone County
Middletown legend: the Shoe Doctor
New anesthesia monitor holds promise for surgery
New Year's Eve Gala
'Cloth' written as if quilts could talk
Oxford Web site
Florence Mall, YWCA shelter take top honors in Cincinnati Design Awards
Ohio slopes making snow
Park will recycle Christmas trees
Policeman quits after search finds child porn on computer
Retiring schools chief says reports troubling
Scout leader handles hurdles
Suicide numbers dip during the holidays
Suspects identified in man's shooting
This Christmas, stork thought he was Santa
Too much, not enough
Two share gifts of God, love
Volunteers get matched with needs
Warren, Butler, Clermont ready
Water brings counties together