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Pick Museum unveils quilt exhibit with a visit from Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

September 25, 2017

The Pick Museum of Anthropology celebrated a spectacular opening reception for its new exhibition, “Quilts and Human Rights.” More than 300 people attended the event on Tuesday, Sept. 5, featuring an inspiring keynote address by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr. on the need for local civic activism. Nearly 60 visitors to the opening reception created a quilt square as part of a quilt block-making workshop run by Sara Trail, founder of the Social Justice Sewing Academy(SJSA). SJSA’s mission is to foster participatory art as a vehicle for personal transformation, community cohesion, and social change focused on teaching sewing to high school and college-aged students. Blocks made at the exhibit opening will be sent to SJSA’s 130 embroidery volunteers and then sewn together into a quilt. These community quilts travel across the country to other SJSA workshops and are exhibited in art centers, galleries and quilt shops. Trail hopes to return this quilt to NIU to be displayed in the Pick Museum of Anthropology in 2018.

Originally curated at the Michigan State University Museum, “Quilts and Human Rights” features quilts from around the world that honor champions of human rights and document quiltmaking as a means of coping with oppression, and it examines how quilts raise awareness of global social issues. Twenty-eight of the quilts in the exhibit come from the Michigan State University Museum’s traveling exhibit. Pick Museum staff has expanded the exhibit by adding 15 additional quilts made between 2008 and today, to highlight the last decade’s booming modern quilting movement as well as to bring the exhibit’s topics and themes up to the present day.

Future programs at the Pick Museum include a lecture and trunk show on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. by quilter Chawne Kimber, who has three quilts in the exhibit, including “The One for Eric G.” On Wednesday, Nov. 8, the Pick Museum will host textile artist Aram Han Sifuentes for a Protest Banner Lending Library workshop at 4 p.m. She will teach attendees how to make large fabric protest banners, all of which will become a repository on campus where students can check out any banner they want for on-campus demonstrations. No sewing experience is necessary.

The exhibition is open now through Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, at the Pick Museum of Anthropology at NIU. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free, and all are welcome. Come on your own or book a free guided tour by visiting the museum’s online tour reservation form.

“Quilts and Human Rights” is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Cordogan, Clark and Associates Inc., and all exhibit programming is co-sponsored by NIU’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality.