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Lower Merion School District

Off-Canvas

Harriton Crafts Belonging with 'Community Quilts' Project

The art of quilting holds a poignant and powerful place in African-American history and culture, dating back to the 17th century. While these beautiful patterned blankets naturally functioned in their typical utilitarian sense, they became far more than that, serving not only as covers to keep warm at night, but as exquisite pieces of art and colorful clandestine codes that aided Black Americans in their perilous journey to freedom. Craftswomen would secretly sew certain patterns into quilts to covertly communicate escape routes and designate safe havens along the Underground Railroad.

To this day, the art of quilting remains a venerated aspect of African-American culture. Quilt-making continues to bring people together to share stories and foster a sense of community and belonging, while making art.

Inspired by this storied history, Harriton’s POWER Scholars and Art Department recently collaborated on a school-wide quilting project to create deeper connections among students, staff and community members.

Students were introduced to the project while learning about artists and quilters like Bisa Butler, Faith Ringgold and the Gees Bend Quilters in advisory periods during Black History Month. Students were then asked to bring in pieces of fabric that had personal significance to them, which would then be used to create the individual quilt-squares that would ultimately be sewn together to make the larger Harriton Community Quilts.

The project culminated during the Rams’ recent Wellness Day, as the many participating students and staff worked together to sew the individual quilt-squares into the bigger tapestries. In the process, they created connections, built relationships and shared the stories behind each of their chosen fabrics.

Once all the squares were sewn together, the six, five-by-eight-foot Harriton Community Quilts were installed in the school’s main lobby, where they will grace walls and stand as a testament to and symbol of the power of community.

Harriton Community Quilts!
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
A computer screen with a slide explaining how quilters use artistic storytelling
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Quilt-squares
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton students, staff and volunteers gather in the library as they work on the Community Quilts project
Harriton Community Quilts!
Harriton Community Quilts!
Art teacher Laura Labrinakos and her mom!

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