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Newsletter

The Afrikan Legacy

June 2002

The Afrikan-American quilt exhibition at Hoffman Estates this past April, was a feast for the eyes and the soul.  The quilts demonstrated the variety, the ingenuity, and the originality of Afrikan culture.  QuiltAfrika is the second largest continent with over fifty countries.  And, over the millenniums, Afrika has experienced geographical as well as socio-political changes that lead to a multitude of customs.  Nevertheless, there is a central culture from which these various customs are derived.

There is an Afrikan proverb from a very ancient country- Egypt.  It says, "A beautiful thing is never perfect." Before I go on let me mention that Egypt, as ancient as it is, is in fact a part of an even older civilization- Ethiopia.  Through Greek translation the name and the boundaries of the country were misinterpreted.  Thus the name Egypt.  At any rate, this proverb personifies Afrikan culture and is demonstrated in many ways.  One example is in the music.  Gospel, Jazz, and The Blues all thrive on improvisation,  each time they are played or sung they are different.  Perhaps it is the raspy or odd voice of the singer or that musical note that seems different or out of place that we so enjoy.  Whether it is a flaw or a deliberate "error", it is constantly evolving and that is what makes it beautiful and yet, not perfect.  The quilts displayed this kind of improvisation.  The artists have taken customs that have evolved over the centuries and applied them to quilting.  And, whether the artist is actually from Afrika or generations removed, the traditions are still in place.

Quilt At the show were presented with quilts that told stories of family and friends, treasured memories, as well as historical events.  The traditional American style quilts utilized colors or/and motif to enhance their beauty.  It was truly a wonderful show.

Crystal Morrison
June, 2002

 

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