An upcoming short-form documentary project, “Queen Bee: African American Women Stitching Freedom,” will tell the stories of well-known Lawrence quilter Marla Arna Jackson and her contemporaries.
The film will be used to “create intergenerational and interracial conversations about the history of African American quilting in Kansas from slavery to the present,” according to a Friday news release.
“For many African American women, quilting is a praxis of storytelling that empowers communities to remember the history of freedom struggles. We propose using the film to create dialogues in libraries, community centers and makerspaces about the use of textile arts by Black women in the pursuit of social justice and equity that continue in the 21st century.”
Nicole Hodges Persley, Ph.D., will direct the film, and Christie Scanlin Dobson serves as producer. A grant of $9,500 from Humanities Kansas will support Lawrence Creates Inc. for the project and public screenings of the film, according to the release.
Jackson was the 2016 winner of the Lawrence Arts Center’s Phoenix Award. Her works have been exhibited in more than 35 national and international venues, including The American Folk Art Museum and The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, according to her website. She runs Marla Quilts Inc. African American Quilt Museum and Textile Academy in Lawrence.
The news release provided more background about the documentary project’s focus:
“For African American women quilters in the United States, from slavery through the present, quilting practices in individual and community forums play a vital role in information dissemination, violence prevention, trauma processing and freedom struggles,” the release says.
“Quilting patterns and styles archive traditions brought forth from Africa during the Transatlantic slave trade that will be potentially lost to new generations if not discussed in intergenerational forums that will inspire continuance of the quilting bee culture of African Americans.”