Piecing together ‘HerStory’ through Dover quilt exhibition

Detail work on this quilt illustrates African women chattering about the latest news. The“Black Women, Telling HerStory” exhibit and sale is at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village through April 19. (Special to the Delaware State News photos by Dee Marvin Emeigh)

DOVER — The artwork of a group of African-American women whose cumulative work covers history from across oceans, gender, race and traditional boundaries blankets the walls of the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover.

In its annual quilt show to celebrate black history, the A Stitch in Time Quilt Guild this year presents “Black Women, Telling HerStory.”

“It’s about seeing how far we’ve come and what we’ve overcome to get here,” said Ellen Harmon, president of the quilting group, which meets monthly to stitch together and discuss guild interests.

The works range from traditional colors and designs to photographic scrapbooks and three-dimensional quilts.

Linda “Miss Lucy” Morman says that her three-dimensional quilts were a direct result of her involvement in the group.

An appliqued detail, known as “fussy work,” decorates an “exploding quilt,” created with fabric strips.

“I used to do more traditional quilts,” she said. “Then Ann (Martin) encouraged me to get more creative.”

One of Ms. Morman’s textured entries this year is the third in a series called “Lady of Color Free.” Each of the quilts depicts a young woman with an area of the quilt, such as her dress or hair, that projects from the background in a textured array of color and motion. Another of her three-dimensional entries depicts a tribal robe, with an assortment of beads and tassels.

Colorful African prints and motifs are an integral feature in the show, but many also tell “HerStory” with photographic panels. One of these features the African-American women who worked for NASA in 1961, whose story is also the subject of the 20th Century Fox movie, “Hidden Figures” that came out late last year and is still in theaters.

Some quilts feature cloth purchased in Africa, like one made by Adrienne Daniels Paris with a panel from Nigeria, surrounded by some squares she made with another quilting group.

“They just went perfectly together,” Ms. Paris said.

Other designs include boys’ toys, hearts, blocks, exploding designs and fussy work. Ms. Paris explains that exploding

Adrienne Daniels Paris, of Middletown, secretary of A Stitch in Time Quilt Guild, used a panel from Nigeria as the centerpiece for one of her quilts.

designs are created by alternating thin strips of one fabric with those of a contrasting fabric making it appear to pop out. Fussy work is an appliqué of a feature from the fabric of the quilt.

Each year, the guild brings new and different quilts to the show and most are for sale, starting at around $100. Twenty-five percent of the profits from the sale of the quilts is donated to the Agricultural Museum and Village.

The exhibit will be on display until April 19. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $5 for military members, $3 for children ages 4 to 17 and free for those under 3.

The quilt show opened Saturday with a reception that honored U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, the first woman and African American to represent Delaware in Congress; retired Magistrate Marcealeate Stephens Ruffin, one of Delaware’s first female African-American judges; educator and vice mayor of Milton Esthelda Parker Selby; and educator and community advocate Ruth Shelton.

The museum and village is at 866 DuPont Highway, Dover. For information, call 734-1618.

Dee Marvin Emeigh is a Milford-area freelancer writer.

A three-dimensional quilt depicts a tribal robe.

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