By Jonathan Sieg–
As the disciples were reclining on the table next to Jesus, John, the one whom Jesus loved, stood up and asked him, “Lord, why are there no women here?” At which time, Judy Chicago, internationally renowned feminist artist, said, “They have been doing the cooking.”
Underrepresentation such as this was the impetus behind the making of the International Honor Quilt. Consisting of over 600 distinct quilted triangles made by various people and organizations from around the globe, the quilt serves to honor the achievements and contribution of women throughout history as well as personal female role models.
Among the colorful geometry are familiar names such as Emily Bronte and Queen Elizabeth II, but also more obscure names inspired by local heroines. However, every triangle symbolizes the struggle for gender equality and memorializes those women who defied the patriarchal order of society.
Having travelled through dozens of countries and being appreciated by millions, the International Honor Quilt has found a permanent home at U of L in the Hite Institute for Fine Arts. Judy Chicago was among the attendees, providing insight into the significance of the quilt not only for U of L, but also for society at large.
“We plan to use the power of [the quilt’s] creation by hundreds of women to reach out to the public across the university community in collaborative ways that further its impressive educational impacts,” said Provost Shirley Willihnganz.
Chicago agreed, saying, “[UofL] is the absolute perfect place” to house the quilt because “Institutions transmit culture.” Chicago hopes students will understand the cultural impact and potential of women through this fabric kaleidoscope. The struggle for gender equality is ongoing, and the International Honors Quilt serves not only as a memorial to champions of the past, but as encouragement to the feminist movement of today.
The quilt was donated by the Chicago-based nonprofit art organization Through the Flower with coordination help from the Kentucky Quilt Project Inc. founder Shelly Zagart.
Zagart noted the appropriateness of Kentucky, a state rich with quilt-making heritage, being the final resting place for the piece. It will be displayed in one of the four art galleries operated by Hite. Exact details have not yet been confirmed.