Who Says Quilters Never Win, and Winners Never Quilt?



I’ve walked through the Gee’s Bend quilt exhibition at The Frist several times with several different people, and every one of them mentioned wanting to get in closer contact with the quilts. One artist friend made sure the security guard had turned his head before sidling up to a particularly old quilt and smelling it.

Also, just about everyone asked if they could see what was printed on the backs of the quilts. The first quilt in the exhibit is hanging from the ceiling so both sides are exposed, but the rest lie flat against the walls.

If you love the work but crave a more hands-on approach, here’s the deal: The Zuri Quilting Guild will be at the Frist 6 to 8 p.m. tonight to give a demonstration of their unique, extraordinary quilting styles. The guild is a Middle Tennessee-based group of African-American quilters who make some of the most fantastic-looking quilts I’ve seen since — well, the early work of the Gee’s Bend quilters.

Founded by Judi Wortham-Sauls and currently headed by Patricia Davis-Scott, the Zuri quilters (“Zuri” means “beautiful” in Swahili) incorporate traditional African textiles and African-American quilting styles to create work that is simply amazing. I can’t wait to see it up close.

Luckily, I’ll have plenty of chances — they’re coming back every Thursday night in August with a different representative on hand to show her work. Tonight’s demonstration spotlights work by Davis-Scott and Johnnie McCallum. Free

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