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By The Skanner News
Published: 05 December 2007

The Tacoma Art Museum recently received a Humanities Washington Fall 2007 Project Grant in support of a new podcast featuring the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters. The podcast is in conjunction with the upcoming partnership project "Threads that Bind: Works by the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters," on view Dec. 18 through Feb. 18, 2008.
Humanities Washington received 62 grant proposals from organizations across the state and disbursed $414,114 among 18 organizations. The Tacoma Art Museum received the full $5,000 requested in its proposal. Other organizations in the region who received funding include Lakewood Historical Society, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and Seattle's Wing Luke Asian Museum.
"It was gratifying to learn that once again, Tacoma Art Museum's programs have been recognized through this selective and competitive grant process," said Stephanie Stebich, Tacoma Art Museum director. "These statewide grants are significant to us as we reach out to new audiences and more deeply engage our visitors. The Humanities Washington Grant helps to advance our vision of being a national model for regional museums with dynamic programs that engage, inspire, and build community through art."
The "Threads that Bind" podcast will feature a series of one-on-one interviews with the quilters about the role quilting has played in their lives and communities. Early chapters of the podcast are slated for release in January, with the remaining segments completed in time for Black History Month. The interviews will consider topics such as: How did the tradition of quilting and programs like the Freedom Quilting Bee — that came out of the Civil Rights movement – serve to build community among African American women? What role does quilting have in building and strengthening intergenerational family ties, given that quilts are typically created in the home and the skills are passed down through generations? What role does spirituality play in all of this?
The podcast also complements the quilter artist-in-residence series in Tacoma Art Museum's M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Open Art Studio in January and February while "Threads that Bind" is on view in the galleries. As the quilters help visitors create quilt squares for inclusion in the community quilt, the resulting conversations will be added to the podcast.
Podcast subscription information, as well as individual audio files, will be available via the museum's Web site at www.TacomaArtMuseum.org, and in Tacoma Art Museum's Bill and Melinda Gates Art Resource Center after the February release.
The members of the quilters are from diverse backgrounds and have settled in the Northwest from all over the country. They do not share the distinct regional style that characterizes more well-known collectives such as the Gee's Bend quilters. Within their 20-woman circle, they each use different types of materials and often take radically different approaches to quilt making. The act of quilting is the thread that binds the women together.  
The quilters association is dedicated to preserving and sharing the evolution of African American quilting. Quilting members are: Patricia Patiste-Brown, Deborah Boone, Bernetta Branch, Cynthia Davis-Vanloo, Iris Franklin, Lynette Gallon-Harrell, Toni Hall, Cheryl Handy, Annie Harper, Oneda Harris, Cheryl Haskins, Sheila Holmes, Christine Jordan-Bell, Donna Kimbrough, Paola Maranan, Gwen Maxwell-Williams, Johnnie Miller, Wadiyah Nelson-Shimabukuro, Lynne Varner-Hollie, and Brenetta Ward. The women meet regularly for quilting bees, organize classes and workshops, and show their work around the region.

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