Quilt for Change aims to raise awareness on global issues that affect women and empower quilters to become agents for social change
To raise awareness on global issues that affect women and empower quilt artists to become agents for social change. Working with various partner organizations, we create themed art quilt exhibitions which are displayed at high visibility venues in Europe and North America such as the United Nations, major quilt festivals in the United States, museums and universities. Our exhibits are a forum for fiber artists from the U.S., Canada, Europe and around the world to share their talent, creativity and inspiration, and serve as a call to action by shining a spotlight on major issues affecting women around the world.
We seek to create a forum where images, whether they be representational or abstract, put a human face on the problems faced by women today. Women as positive and strong agents for change, sharp social commentary, and culturally knowledgeable and aware images can tell the story of the human condition in ways that move the viewer to take steps to be more involved in changing the world around us. Fiber is an international media that has connections, particularly to women, in so many societies around the world. We hope to tap into the tradition of women expressing their views in thread. For those who wish to use their quilting and art talents more directly, we maintain a list of projects to which you can contribute.
Founded by Allison and Dick Wilbur, Quilt for Change has its roots in a series of American quilt exhibits in Kuwait and Oman from 1998 to 2000. Dick was a Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassies in those countries and Allison was beginning to learn the art of quilting. The exhibits highlighted American quilting and needlework, displaying a side of American culture that resonated with audiences in the Middle East, where fine embroidery is a traditional art. A posting at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva allowed for a new dimension in the exhibits – to use the art of quilting to raise awareness of global issues affecting women. The first U.N. exhibit, which partnered with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, opened in 2009 in Geneva and then traveled across the U.S. in 2010, highlighting the good work of the Global Fund in combating these devastating diseases and U.S. leadership in funding the effort. The website quiltforchange.org was created to advertise this exhibit. In 2011, we created Quilt for Change and partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. to create a quilt challenge exhibit on Women, Peace and Security, which opened in Geneva in 2011 and New York in 2012, toured in the U.S. with Mancuso Quilt Shows, and exhibited at the 2012 Houston International Quilt Show. The Solar Sister exhibit followed in 2013, and Water is Life opened in 2016.
The daughter of a painter and a cabinetmaker, Allison has found her home in quilting, a medium that combines color and geometry. The Alzheimer’s Quilt Initiative exhibit had a profound affect on her artistic vision, shifting her work to become a medium for storytelling and awareness raising. Allison lectures on quilting, teaches machine quilting and quilt design classes, longarm quilts for customers, belongs to several quilt guilds and is a regional rep for the MA/RI chapter of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). Her quilts draw on her life experiences living in Russia, Japan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Oman and Switzerland. Allison is a graduate of Smith College and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. To learn more about Allison, visit her website, AllisonWilburQuilts.com
Dick is a retired Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. He has been posted in Tunisia, Kuwait, Oman, at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, and at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI. In Washington, he served in the Office of Oceans Affairs, the International Organizations Bureau, and the Bureau of International Information Programs. A Public Diplomacy Officer, his career focused on sharing American culture, history, values and education, and explaining U.S. foreign policy to audiences around the world. Dick now works at the Naval War College in Rhode Island and is an adjunct professor at local colleges and universities. He also serves on the exhibitions Committee of SAQA, the Studio Art Quilt Association.
Dawn has been instrumental in bringing Canadian quilters into our quilt challenges. She used her quilt, “Halla, an Unexpected Gift” both to raise funds for the fight against malaria, and to raise awareness. She traveled to Geneva for the opening of the Global Fund quilt challenge and was then inspired to help broadcast the call for quilts for the Women, Peace and Security Quilt challenge. She even inspired two Iranian quilters to be part of the exhibit. Dawn has participated in all four Quilt for Change exhibits.
The Quilt Artists
We are grateful to all the amazing fiber artists who participate in our challenges. It is their creativity and their voices that bring these challenging topics to life. Many are members of the Studio Art Quilt Association (SAQA). If you would like to take part in our next quilt challenge, please follow us on our blog and on Facebook and Twitter for announcements of upcoming challenges. Our next challenge will be a joint effort with SAQA, and is expected to be announced in November, 2016.