AR-ZUMA by Paula Straw
January 3 – March 1, 2020
Art quilting is one of my passions. It stirs my consciousness. When I first saw the 1912 photograph of Ar-Zuma with her grandchildren, I was compelled to know her story and create a piece of art.
Ar-Zuma was illegally smuggled into Mobile Bay, Alabama in 1860 on the last known slave ship, the Clotilda. After emancipation, she began her courageous life in the town known today as Africatown, Alabama.
The quilt, Ar-Zuma, evolved in layers of a printed photograph, hand-dyed cheese cloth, and organza overlays of sketches, photographs, and documents. The layers are anchored with hand embroidery and free motion machine quilting.
The doorway is quilted with the words of Cudjo Lewis, also a captive of the Clotilda. The ‘rocks’ at the base of the quilt honor other persons aboard the Clotilda. Hand calligraphy embellishes the backing of the quilt with the words of our forefathers’ declaration: “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal…”
The quilt Ar-Zuma and her grandchildren received the President’s Award at the 2019 Black Canyon Quilt Show of Western Colorado for best exemplifying the theme of Liberty.
I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, with devoted parents and 4 siblings. I knew from an early age I was happiest when sewing with my mother’s 1938 Kenmore Deluxe sewing machine.
I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1979 with a BS degree in Nursing, and spent 30 rewarding years as a Pediatric RN.
Now 62 years old and retired, I have the time to pursue my interests in the textile arts. I am largely self-taught. I seek out other art quilters and workshops to continue to grow creatively. I live in western Colorado with my husband, John. Together we share interests in cycling, hiking, fly fishing, skiing, history, and world traveling.