Stitch by stitch, quilts piece together a handcrafted work of the soul. Stories, traditions and emotions interweave into the colors and patterns of this art form that has empowered women as a form of expression for centuries. Now, SLU students have the opportunity to experience this unique art form in benefit of a relevant cause: preventing and ending domestic and sexual violence. The exhibition, “Quilt National ’13 presented by Safe Connections,” brings to Saint Louis University Museum of Art (SLUMA) quilted masterpieces with a message.
Of the 851 original quilt submissions, 85 of the best fiber works from around the world were chosen to be a part of this exclusive collection, the largest of its kind in the nation. The elaborate colors, details, patterns and textures of the displayed works certainly do not fit one’s traditional idea of a quilt. The pieces that transform SLUMA’s lower level challenge the viewer’s preconceptions not only about quilting but also individual, social and environmental issues.
“It’s a universal art. It speaks to your soul. It creates warmth and is approachable. More than just your grandmother’s quilt on the bed; it’s a statement that’s pretty rich in message. As a quilter, it is therapeutic to do it and see it,” said Paula Kovarik at the grand opening of Quilt National on Sept. 20. Kovarik came from Memphis to join the other talented quilters on display in SLUMA’s annual exhibit.
For 25 years, Quilt National has been presented in St. Louis by Safe Connections; the oldest and largest locally founded nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and ending domestic and sexual violence. Safe Connections provides St. Louis with counseling services, a 24-hour helpline, and prevention education to middle school, high school and college-aged students. All of the services provided to victims are completely free of charge. The ultimate goal of Safe Connections aims to promote healthy, nonviolent relationships – a cause relevant to every college student. The show is free for students and the general public but through individual and organizational sponsorship, Safe Connections does receive funding.
Deb Cottin, Director of Development and Marketing at Safe Connections, explains the link between quilting and the goals of Safe Connections, “Originally, the show was a great fundraiser for Safe Connections because quilting is traditionally women’s art. Quilting was a way women came together to support each other. And our organization was originally just a women’s self-help center but now, as Safe Connections, we also help teen boys who were victims. And now there are male quilters too. As we have changed and grown as an agency, so has the show.”
The internationally diverse quilters of Quilt National use their craftwork to make broad thought-provoking statements about the world. The show has the power to inspire students to make a difference on a local level with their own gifts and talents.
Safe Connections is always looking for passionate student volunteers dedicated to the cause and goals of the organization. Students can work with the Safe Connections hotline as well as with specialized events throughout the year. For more information about getting involved with Safe Connections, students can contact Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, Katie Flaschar, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, students can gain a deeper local art experience at a “Lunchtime Lecture” by Luanne Rimel, a local Missouri artist out of Craft Alliance. She will speak from noon – 1p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10.
Quilt National is free to students and will be on display at SLUMA through Oct. 27. SLUMA is located at 3663 Lindell and Museum Hours are 11 a.m. -4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.