CraftSanity Podcast Episode 138: The story of how a non-quilter oversaw the creation of the 120-foot ‘Quilt of Belonging’

Esther Bryan is the artist who collaborated with hundreds of people to create the 120 foot "Quilt of Belonging." CraftSanity Magazine Episode 138 was recorded last month at the AQS quilt show in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Esther Bryan is the artist who collaborated with hundreds of people to create the 120 foot “Quilt of Belonging.” CraftSanity Episode 138 was recorded last month at the AQS quilt show in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

By Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood

It was the largest quilt on display at last month’s American Quilter’s Society show and probably the most important.

Measuring 120 feet long by 10 1/2 feet high, the “Quilt of Belonging” is an impressive quilt comprised of 263 blocks containing handwork created by 70 Aboriginal groups and 193 immigrant nationalities represented in Canada as of Jan. 1, 2000.

It was awe inspiring to stand before this quilt displayed along a convention center wall in Grand Rapids, Michigan and imagine the hundreds of groups and individuals who had a hand in creating such a bold symbol of cultural pride, international collaboration and peace.

I was one of the thousands who walked past this quilt the first day of the show and I returned hours before it was taken down to record the story behind it.

The quilt was created under the direction of Esther Bryan, an artist and pianist born in France as the daughter of missionaries. In 1963, her parents moved the family to Canada. Bryan, who eventually settled with her husband and three children in Williamstown, Ontario, grew up knowing little about her family heritage until her father – a Slovak refugee, asked her to “take me home” in 1994.

If it weren’t for that trip, the “Quilt of Belonging” may never have been created. Tune in to hear Esther tell the story of how learning about her family history inspired her to collaborate with people from every nation in the world to make a vibrant and inspirational piece of art.

You can read the rest of the newspaper column I wrote about Esther here. Visit quiltofbelonging.ca for more information about the quilt, books, educational materials and the documentary.

Sponsor Appreciation!

acshomeandwork-300x124A special thanks to my Patreon sponsors and my new sponsor, ACS Home and Work, for supporting this podcast. I discovered ACS when I was looking for a local source for flour sack tea towels for printmaking and embroidery purposes. I’m very happy to be supporting a West Michigan-based company with my business and now ACS is stepping in to sponsor the CraftSanity Podcast through the end of the year. (Thank you!!) In the coming weeks, I’ll be telling you more about this fun company and sharing some videos demonstrating some of the things I’m making with their products. In the meantime, go check out their website and thank them for supporting the CraftSanity Podcast.

Enjoy!

 I hope you enjoy this episode of the podcast. Have a listen and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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