South Africa, textiles, quilts, history, material culture
Quilts and related textiles are a particularly capacious textile medium through which the intersection of materiality and narratives can be explored. There are thousands of extant historical examples to be found in public and private collections, and the “quilt world” of the early twenty-first century is robust and enormous. There are literally millions of individuals around the globe who are involved in some aspect of quilt production, preservation, and study. This article provides a brief overview of quiltmaking and quilt studies in the United States and in South Africa. It draws upon samples of work from both countries to illustrate how, through their needles and their stories, quilt artists provide unique windows into personal and public histories.