In May of 2009, Karen Brackett from Skidmore College led an education study program to South Africa. Nineteen college students participated in the course. Patti Estabrook, Jean Mead and Diane Podesva from Patti’s Quilting and Fabric Shop in Glens Falls were part of the professional team working with Brackett, Rosie and John Manley, and Mary Wright. The group is developing four full-size story quilts that will be on display on the Skidmore campus and in local museums starting in the spring of 2010.
A two-day workshop to practice our skills took place at Skidmore in November 2008. Martha Beauchamp from The Quilted Jardin in Galway worked with us as a consultant. Her area of expertise is creating quilts from drawings or photos. A sample of her work is displayed on the left. These workshops with Martha provided hands-on-experience which prepared us for the 2009 quilt project in South Africa.
The story quilts created on our journey and during the upcoming fall semester will focus on the following themes:
Quilt #1 This group worked with the younger children at Edendale (Grade R – Standard one) to create an alphabet quilt. Items significant to the African culture are represented for each letter. Language samples of the children’s stories about these items will be on display with this quilt in exhibit format. Also, the many languages spoken at the school (there are 11 official languages in South Africa) will be represented in the stories.
Quilt #2 The second group worked with the Standard two class to create a quilt about the people and landscapes of South Africa. They used the information they learned about from the following groups of people: Xhosa, Ndebele, Zulu, Pedi, Besotho, Afrikaans, Indian, and those that live in the various places visited while in South Africa (Pretoria, Soweto, Lesotho, Midlands and Cape Town).
Quilt #3 This group worked with the Standard three class to create a quilt about African art. Reproductions created by children are included. It is multi-faceted in terms of integrating dance, music, painting, textile work and photography. Also included is cultural art forms of local artisans enountered throughout the journey.
Quilt #4 The final group worked with the Standard four class to gather data for a historical quilt representing apartheid and post-apartheid eras. Students used children's drawings and writing samples, as well as information from their visits at local museums. In Soweto students walked through Freedom Square and read the Constitution on display. In Cape Town, students toured Robben Island and viewed the District Six Museum. The oral history assignment will also impact the outcome of this quilt.
For more information about the Journey please contact:
Educational Program to South Africa Directors
Education Department-Palamountain Hall
Phone: (518) 580-5140