Inspired by the Toledo Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition Radical Tradition: American Quilts and Social Change, TMA organized a COVID-19 Virtual Quilting Bee in advance of the exhibition opening. Nearly 100 quilt squares were submitted from across the United States. Community members submitted both traditional patterned quilt blocks and those addressing aspects of life amid the current global pandemic, which marks a moment of change and uncertainty on a global scale. Many of the squares were digitally stitched together by The Electric Quilt Co. and can be viewed below.
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 Their quilts are historical documents that foster positive change and pay tribute to those whom history has at times overlooked.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 was 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 submitted photos of their blocks for inclusion in a virtual quilt. No experience was necessary, and participants of all backgrounds—beginners, everyday quilters and professionals, youth and adults, students, DIY communities, and studio artists alike—were encouraged to participate.