This week the Quilt Alliance launches our new website, a project to which I’ve devoted much time and energy during this past year. It’s still a work in progress, but I am eager to welcome you to the Quilt Alliance’s new home.
Over ten years ago, when I was an easily intimidated graduate student, early on in my career researching quilts, Shelly Zegart invited me to join the board of directors of the Quilt Alliance (then called, the Alliance for American Quilts). I don’t think my fellow board members heard me speak during a meeting for at least my first two years of service. At the time, I was unsure of what I really contributed the organization, as I was broke as a joke, living on my grad student stipend and I didn’t have a huge network of potential donors or partners. But I definitely loved the organization’s mission of saving quilt history in the present by conducting oral history interviews with living quiltmakers and making a huge database of quilts documented from across the country.
Since that time, the organization has become an integral part of who I am. The friends and colleagues I have made are among the kindest, most creative, and smartest individuals not just in the quilt world, but anywhere. Through them, I have had many opportunities to share what I love about quilts. This year, I am serving as president of the board, a position unfathomable to the quiet grad student from ten years ago. My primary agenda for my tenure was pretty short and pretty specific: upgrade our digital assets.
When the Quilt Alliance was established in 1993, the World Wide Web was barely hatched, yet the organization soon knew that it wanted to primarily be a digital force, rather than a brick and mortar entity, even using “The Center for the Quilt Online” as one of its mottos. I think that was a prescient choice. Quilters and quilt enthusiasts have embraced the online world, forming communities online to learn to quilt, share quilt documentation, and in many ways re-create the old fashioned quilting bee of yore.
One of our website’s great new features is simply taking advantage of the highly visual medium of quilts. Our members and supporters have contributed quilts annually to our contest, and images of those amazing works of art figure prominently throughout the site. We also can better share our video project, Go Tell It!, featuring one person talking about one quilt for three minutes. These quilt stories are amazing and inspiring! We’re still figuring out a plan for how to share audio from our longer form oral history project, Quilters’ S.O.S. — Save Our Stories, so stay tuned for updates. But updates are easy on this new site, so we plan to make them regularly.
You can read more about my involvement in this organization and the significance of our new website on the remodeled Quilt Alliance blog.