Community quilt on display
By F. Carlton Peeples
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Esther Collins, a Detroit resident and quilt artist, knows the value of the fine arts. She’s been sewing for over 20 years and quilting for eight of those years. Her passion was on display March 1 with the opening of the “Right On! Quilt Exhibition” and unveiling of the community quilt at the Carr Center in downtown Detroit.
Lottie Elmira Quilters, in partnership with the Arts League of Michigan, have reached out to Metro Detroiters daring them to be inspired and get involved. Over the past two years the Lottie Elmira Quilters have held community events that allow them to do just that. Beginning with Noel Night in midtown’s Detroit Institute of Arts, along with events at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, supporters were encouraged to create a unique part of history.
“We wanted to get Detroiters to be a part of this,” says Collins. “There hasn’t been a community quilt of this size, with this many people, done before.”
The ambitious project resulted in an anticipated unveil. The quilt is 93 inches by 459 inches long — as wide as several king size quilts — and is comprised of 188 squares. Over 150 people in the metro Detroit area participated in the project. The oldest to participate was 99-year-old Eoula Jackson from Detroit, who will soon celebrate her 100th birthday. “Eoula helped inspire us with her contribution. Her spirit is so vibrant,” says Collins. The youngest was an 8-year-old from the area.
Oliver Ragsdale, Jr., president of the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center and the Arts League of Michigan, was on hand for the unveiling. His take on the project is that it’s simply “unique.” “Having this type of project, bringing the community together, is why the Carr Center is here and in full support (of projects like) the ‘Right On! Quilt Exhibition,’” Ragsdale said.
The exhibit opened at the beginning of March and runs until April 15 at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Center, 311 E. Grand River Ave.