Quilt Exhibit Teaches about Ties That Bind Humanity

  Hikari Loftus, Church Magazines

  • March 11, 2011–January 15, 2012

Article Highlights

  • “Pieces of Me” is not so much a quilt show as an exhibit focused on relationships.
  • Interactive displays allow visitors to create their own magnetic quilt, practice embroidery, and record or view personal quilt stories.

“We talk about our relationship with the Lord and how it influences all of our other relationships. These relationships, including the one with myself, are a piece of who I am, and I am a part of a family, community, and the world. By sharing our stories with each other, we can strengthen each other and help each other be better people.” —Jennifer Hadley, collections care specialist for the Family History Department

A new interactive exhibit, “Pieces of Me: Quilted Expressions of Human Ties,” now on display at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, asks men, women, and children to consider the ties that bind the human family. 

The exhibit, which will be on display through January 15, 2012, and offers free admission, was not designed like most traditional quilt shows. 

“Traditional quilt shows have the prettiest and most technical quilts on the wall, with the title and artist, just like an art show,” said Jennifer Hadley, collections care specialist for the Family History Department. “We focus on the stories behind the quilts and what they tell us.”

The exhibit consists of four main displays that teach visitors about understanding self and the ties that bind families, communities, and the world. Historical quilts from the Church’s collection and others loaned from various quilters will be on display along with related artifacts. 

“We talk about our relationship with the Lord and how it influences all of our other relationships,” Sister Hadley said. “These relationships, including the one with myself, are a piece of who I am, and I am a part of a family, community and the world. By sharing our stories with each other, we can strengthen each other and help each other be better people.”

One quilt, titled, “To Every Worthy Male Member,” was created using African fabrics and tracings of hands of many men all over the world. The quilt celebrates that every worthy male can hold the priesthood and shares a worldwide message of brotherhood, Sister Hadley said. 

Alongside the quilt stands a radio that belonged to Joseph William Billy Johnson, who was a preacher in Africa who converted to the Church. Brother Johnson taught the gospel to his congregation and eventually converted most of them as well, said Sister Hadley. They waited 14 years for a priesthood holder to come so that they could be baptized. The radio on display is the same one that Brother Johnson was listening to when the announcement came that all worthy males could hold the priesthood.

The exhibit also has many interactive displays that allow visitors create their own magnetic quilt, practice embroidery, and use video booths to view quilting stories or record and share their own via webcam. 

Sister Hadley compares life to a crazy quilt—which uses velvets, silks and brocades, among other types of lush fabrics in asymmetrical and odd shapes—as opposed to traditional quilts that are made of cotton and that feature  triangular or square shapes that are arranged in a pattern and then sewn together. 

“Life is . . . just a bunch of random, eclectic pieces that are sewn together into a beautiful whole,” Sister Hadley said. “Each of these different areas and relationships in our lives adds to the piece. They are all a piece of me.”

The Church History Museum is located at 45 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, and is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday,  10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more participants. Specialized group tours are available with a reservation. 

The museum invites quilters to share their quilt stories with others online by logging onto www.piecesofmeexhibit.org to submit their story and photograph from home.