By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
Their fingers may be more weathered than they used to be, but a local group of women are still using their gifted hands to create awesome works.
The members of the Sisters Quilting Collective (SQC) are marking their 10th anniversary by sharing stories, and their art. An anniversary celebration was held, appropriately, at the Sojourner Truth Museum in South Sacramento.
It was a gathering of sisters and community elders, each as feisty and fierce as the creations that bring them together. They proudly displayed their museum-worthy blankets and quilted handbags. The women were walking examples of their handiwork as well. They wore head wraps and dresses made of brightly-colored African fabrics and donned jackets made of mud cloth and embellished denim.
Many of those present spoke of their Southern roots and their connection to quilting and keeping alive a tradition that many of their own elders enjoyed.
A special letter from Daphne Burgess, an artist and former Crocker Art Museum project manager who recently moved to Alabama, was read during the event.
“I have truly enjoyed the time spent with an amazing group of women,” she wrote. “I was inspired by my grandmothers who quilted and I made paintings about them and their quilts. I started making my own slowly but surely and eventually integrated ideas into my mixed media work. I learned so much from everyone in the group, and appreciated the community that was created around this art form.”
SQC co-founder Fredi Slaughter-Walker says she saw quilting in a new light 10 years ago, when Barbara Range, the curator of the Brickhouse Gallery & Art Complex, hosted an exhibit on African American quilting.
“She put those quilts up on the wall and they became art pieces,” Slaughter-Walker said. “I was just lit up right there. We all decided, ‘let’s gather together and have a group,’ because I’m a true believer that all women need to have a place where they can come and they can enjoy and they can just be themselves, eat, drink, whatever you want to do. Each and every woman on earth needs a place like that. I’m just really happy to see that it’s still continuing.”
Growing the group to include younger generations is also important, Slaughter-Walker said. There were several mother-daughter pairings at the celebration. Johyne Geran, the former SQC co-chair, who jokingly referred to herself as an “obsessive compulsive quilter,” attended the celebration with her daughter, Paige Durant, who works as a costume designer and stylist.
Members, young and older, use their creative powers for good. Duran shared how her quilts helped raise money for scholarships for young Black men at UC Berkeley and the ladies of the SQC make winter hats and scarves every year to donate to local homeless women. Members, who have been meeting virtually, also made and distributed fabric face masks in the early stages of the pandemic.
Quilter and SQC Treasurer Roxie Mason said members have still been able to create during “these unusual times.” The anniversary, Mason said, gave the group the chance to toast their past and their future.
For more information on the SQC and how to join, visit them online at www.facebook.com/SistersQuiltingCollective.