Sunday, June 03, 2001

Quilter/poet threads her artistry with African-American history

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

        Who: Charlotte Hunter of Forest Park, a self-described “quilter and poet” who records history with a needle and thread.

        What: The conceptual quilts she has made to chronicle the past and honor her African-American and Catholic heritage.

[photo] Charlotte Hunter surrounded by some of her quilts.
(Yuli Wu photo)
| ZOOM |
        Where: Displayed throughout the home she shares with husband, Stephen.

        Mapping out the future: Mrs. Hunter, whose mother taught her to sew as a child, began quilting in 1996 as part of the ArtWorks program.

        “We created a quilt that was a map of Cincinnati,” she says. “We were also teaching poetry, so we included our student's work on the other side.”

        Since then she has created 20 more as well as quilted pillows.

        Recorded for posterity: “They took a direction of actually recording history,” Mrs. Hunter explains. “They tell stories about my heroes, those people who affected my life. I want to capture eras for future generations.”

        Her favorite things: Mrs. Hunter's quilts are made from brightly colored fabrics and intricately stitched. Some feature photos that have been transferred onto cloth and others bear her original poetry. “Quite often the fabrics are selected to reflect the person or else what I wanted to convey about the quilt itself,” she says.

        It takes her “from two days to two years” to complete one. “It depends on how inspired I am,” she says with a grin.

        From the heart: Examples of her work include quilts honoring: The Virgin Mary, St. Francis of Assisi, the Rev. Clarence Joseph Rivers (who pioneered the use of African-American music in the Mass) and Franklin M. Shands (one of Cincinnati's most esteemed track coaches). Her quilt honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry, is on display at Chicago State University.

        Warm the heart: Mrs. Hunter doesn't allow anyone to cuddle under her quilts. “Oh, no!” she says. “They are not meant to be used in that way. I want them to last. A hundred years from now, I want people to know our story.”
       Show off your prize possessions by writing to Marsie Hall Newbold, Tempo, Prize Possessions, The Enquirer, 312 Elm St., 45202 or e-mail



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