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Inspired by the Toledo Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition Radical Tradition: American Quilts and Social Change, we’re pleased to announce the COVID-19 Virtual Quilting Bee. Knowing that art and museums offer a space for many to reflect, process, and respond during difficult times, community members are encouraged to submit quilt blocks that address aspects of life amid the current global pandemic. Due to social-distancing measures, these blocks will be “stitched together” in an online photo gallery and through TMA’s social media platforms (see submission guidelines below). We hope you will save your hand-made quilt blocks to display at home!

Radical Tradition: American Quilts and Social Change will explore the tradition in the U.S. of creating quilts that voice opinions, raise awareness, and inspire action during times of social upheaval from the mid-19th century to the present.

Collaborative in nature, quilting bees have long been an activity for community building, shared labor, and intergenerational engagement. For nearly 200 years, quiltmakers have created social networks through their practice, coming together to exchange ideas, support shared causes, and build movements. Their quilts are historical documents that foster positive change and pay tribute to those whom history has at times overlooked.

The COVID-19 Virtual Quilting Bee is an open call to communities near and far to respond to the current pandemic, which marks a moment of change and uncertainty on a global scale. Individuals will submit photos of their blocks for inclusion in a virtual quilt. No experience is necessary, and participants of all backgrounds—beginners, everyday quilters and professionals, youth and adults, students, DIY communities, and studio artists alike—are encouraged to participate.

Design Prompts

What message do you want to share about the COVID-19 pandemic? What has been your experience of the stay-at-home orders? What do you love and miss about your community? What is your hope for the post-pandemic future? Who would you want to honor or commemorate?

Start with a 12 x 12-inch square.

Take inspiration from the works in Radical Tradition, which incorporate a wide range of media—everything from cotton and wool to salvaged wood, paint, and celluloid film—to challenge traditional notions of what a quilt is and the form it can take.

  • Fabric: Scrap fabric, old clothing that you can cut, and other textile materials.
  • Paper: Look around your house for a variety of colors and textures, such as recycled paper, cardboard, old greeting cards, photographs, or newspaper.
  • Digital: Feel free to submit a quilt block made digitally using software or tools of your choice.
  • Use your imagination! Art materials can be found in unexpected places.

Because we are practicing social distancing and TMA is currently closed to the public, submissions will be displayed online for everyone to view at home.

Tip: Find a brightly lit place and take the photo from above.

Submission Guidelines:

To be included in the TMA COVID-19 Virtual Quilting Bee, upload a photo of your finished quilt block and fill out the submission form below by 11:59 p.m. EST, Monday, June 22, 2020.

Please also post your quilt block to the social media platform of your choice (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) with the hashtag: #TMACovid19Quilt. Select posts will be featured on TMA’s social media!

By clicking “submit” I consent to the use of the uploaded image and my name by the Toledo Museum of Art in all public online posts related to this project.