Stitched among the the cotton squares of Harriet Powers’ two surviving quilts are centuries of memories, handed down through oral tradition, written text, and now in this case, through large scale works of textile art. Born a slave in 1830s Georgia and owned by a white woman, Powers life and legacy lay at the meeting point of numerous marginalized identities. She was enslaved, then later emancipated after the conclusion of the Civil War. She was a woman of African descent living in the American south as a devout Christian. At the center of these numerous and varied adjectives used by scholars to describe the existence of Powers is her immense talent and skill as a quilter. Through the use of applique quilting, Harriet Powers created a representation of collective memory for the social, racial, religious, and geographical groups she was a member of. In her two surviving quilts, Bible Quilt and Pictorial Quilt, these collective memories are pieced together through both machine and hand stitched squares.
Rudy, Ariel, "Between Heaven and Earth: Collective Memory Across Time and Place in the Quilts of Harriet Powers" (2018). Undergraduate Research Awards. 41.