Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How It All Began

The Arkansas Quilt Registry is a project that began in 2006 at Ozark Folkways in Winslow, Arkansas and made possible in part by a grant from the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Below is the proposal portion of our approved 2006 Arkansas Heritage Month Grant Application. The theme for Arkansas Heritage Month in 2006 was "Discover Arkansas's Treasures".

Most treasures are not discovered accidentally. Most are discovered by means of hard work, organization, and often faith that the treasure even exists. It is no easy job, that of treasure hunter, especially when it is not lost cities or sunken gold he seeks but rather something more subtle, something equally valuable yet more ordinary.

This year's theme for Heritage Month delighted us at Ozark Folkways because we are developing a project that fits like tongue-in-groove.

Any worthwhile treasure hunt, though, begins with a map. This proposal is that map, and we believe it will ultimately lead to some of Arkansas's undiscovered cultural riches.

Ozark Folkways proposes to create the Arkansas Quilt Registry, an online database for any original quilts made or owned in the state of Arkansas. More often than not a quilt is a personal thing, an object made either amongst friends or by one member of a family intended for another. Even storebought or antique quilts with no personal connection, when given time and use, become personal.

Many people do not see all the art they could; this is not a statement concerning museum attendance, but rather concerning perception of the way our world is put together. Being involved in the arts, engages that person with the objects of everyday life. That quilt on the bed in grandmother's guest room is much more than a blanket to anyone who has ever sat for hours over a frame pulling needle and thread. That quilt becomes a world of decisions, each contributing a voice to the final result.

It's fun to daydream about a world powered by wind and populated with potters, quilters, weavers, and woodcarvers, but that is not the world we live in.

The problem of how to engage the larger public and engender awareness of the importance of handmade goods is as old as the industrial revolution.

Until recently the technological revolution only exacerbated the problem, but, as the internet has improved in speed and capacity, we have seen the rise of so-called humanities technology. Online art galleries and museum collections, websites for individual artists or workshops, forums and message boards allowing open dialogue between total strangers; all of these things hae become commonplace just in the last decade and are being used to great effect.

The Arkansas Quilt Registry has the potential to be a permanent, statewide venue for Arkansans to share images of and information about their valued quilts. The Registry would amount to a photographic documentaion of each quilt, both whole and in detail, accompanied by any information that exists about the quilt, provided by the owner of maker.

This project is about the collaboration of people all over to recognize and publicize the rich history of quilting in our state.

Best Wishes,

Rebecca Buchanan
Ozark Folkways
Winslow, Arkansas


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