By Lisa L. Kriner, TSA President, 2018–2020
This article was originally published in the Fall 2019 issue of the TSA Newsletter.
It is with much respect and sadness that Textile Society of America recognizes the death and celebrates the life and art of African-American quiltmaker Marion Coleman, a recent member of the TSA community.
Coleman used found and vintage cloth to embrace traditional methods of quiltmaking learned from family members as well as to explore contemporary approaches to quiltmaking and fabric collage. Her background in counseling and work in social services led her to be deeply involved in the community and its stories. Through her emotionally moving art, Coleman asked us to think about human rights and issues of racial equality as she deeply explored African-American life in the United States.
Coleman’s art has been exhibited nationally and internationally in group and solo exhibitions, is prominent in public spaces, and is included in both public and private collections. Coleman’s work was featured in The New York Times in “Quilts With a Sense of Place, Stitched in Oakland,” by Patricia Leigh Brown (published February 2, 2016), in books including Quilts and Human Rights by Marsha MacDowell et al (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), and And Still We Rise: Race, Culture, and Visual Conversations by Carolyn Mazloomi (Schiffer, 2015). In 2018, Coleman was named a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow, the highest honor in folk and traditional arts (access an NEA podcast with Marion at arts.gov/news/2019/national-endowment-arts-statement-death-nea-national-heritage-fellow-marion-coleman).
Marion Coleman’s death will be felt throughout our community and beyond, and she will be greatly missed by those who worked with her personally and by all who found joy and meaning in her art. To learn more about her life as an artist in her own words, visit marioncoleman.com.