NU-Q exhibition showcases quilt artistry

October 26, 2011 - 10:07:01 pm


Dr Tracy L Vaughn, senior lecturer of literature at Northwestern University – Qatar. RIGHT: One of Dr Vaughn’s work ‘Arabian Twilight’.

by Fazeena Saleem

To celebrate cultural diversity and understanding the Northwestern University–Qatar hosts ‘Radiant Compositions: The Quilt Artistry of Dr Tracy L Vaughn’ exhibition at the Education city.

In this exhibition Dr Vaughn, senior lecturer of literature at Northwestern University–Qatar showcases her stunning work in quilt artistry encompassing nearly a decade.

It is the first exhibition of its kind in Doha, and the first exhibition held at the gallery in the Hamad bin Khalifa University Student Center.

Among the quilts displayed is one commissioned by 1993 Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison, and one from the collection of Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro.

“I am showcasing a type of art form unseen in Qatar - these quilts are hand-sewn, spontaneous compositions of colours and patterns that I call ‘textile narratives,’ This exhibition includes pieces that speak of my encounters with Qatar’s cultural and architectural landscapes. Each quilt tells a different story using the most luxurious and exquisite fabrics available,” said Dr Vaughn.

The exhibition opened as part of a week-long series of events at Northwestern University in Qatar to celebrate cultural diversity and understanding, called ‘Shades of Purple.’ The exhibition continues until November 3 at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center, and is open from 10am to 9pm, between Saturday and Thursday and between 1pm to 9pm on Fridays.

Dr Vaughn was intrigued by the way quilts were used by African American women as far back as colonial America to keep their families warm and to tell stories of home and history.

Enslaved women often made scrap quilts for their families with leftover material, discarded clothing and feed sacks, but they took a certain pride in the artistry and originality of their quilts. She is working now to build on that legacy by reinvigorating the quilting art form and introducing it to other cultures as a means of textile storytelling.

Speaking about her experience in Qatar Dr Vaughn said, “My experience in Qatar has been incredibly enriching and enlightening, and two of the quilts on display reflect the influence of the different cultural environment I have experienced here. I finished the quilt ‘At Home in Doha’ when I moved here to teach literature at Northwestern’s Qatar campus.”

“It has an Arabesque feel and was influenced by the many patterns in Doha’s architecture. Another quilt, ‘Arabian Twilight,’ was inspired by the Doha skyline.”

As there is a strong local interest in fabrics, textiles Dr Vaughn has several quilting projects that she would like to pursue in Qatar in the future, especially after seeing the interest this exhibition has generated among her Qatari students.THE PENINSULA