EPU II:  Cultures in Cloth is available to exhibit in your community. To learn more about the exhibit and it's accompanying fiber collage workshop, Cultural Cloth:  Exploring and Expressing Our Cultural Histories, please visit www.culturalcloth.wordpress.com.

Sandra Betts
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada


    My Father

    My father disappeared in the chaos of the Second World War. My brother and I have spent a lifetime finding our Chinese heritage. It has been wonderful for our children and grandchildren to be able to know this culture especially since only a few of his oriental characteristics have been passed on to his very Caucasian appearing descendants.

    This piece was done as a holographic image to depict the hazy image that I remember. The flocked brocade was painted and stamped with the symbols for eternity, faithfulness, peace and tranquility. The dragon who represents wisdom and strength was drawn and then free motion embroidered with gold threads.


Soft-Focus Memories

We moved almost every year until I was 11. When my father retired from the Army, we settled in Puerto Rico, my mother’s birthplace. I’m sometimes deeply homesick for the island. The photo I used was taken in the early 1980s and depicts part of the backyard of our house. I used a “soft-focus” filter to blur the edges, representing memory’s odd mixture of clarity and clouds. In several places the quilting depicts Taíno Indian petroglyphs. The thread-sketched “garita,” or sentry house, is an iconic image recognized by all Puerto Ricans everywhere.


Allison Brown-Cestero
San Antonio, Texas


Paet Burcham
Cleveland, Ohio, USA



My ancestors, came from Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Achill is named for the sea eagles who inhabit it.  In the hanging you see the Eagle holding the Salmon of Knowledge.  Below the eagle you see my ancestor, Grace O'Malley (Granuaile) the famous Pirate Queen who met Elizabeth I as as equal in London.  She holds a lace hankie given to her by Elizabeth.  Sadly Grace had a cold and used the hankie and threw it in the fire.  Elizabeth was aghast!  Grace said, "Do you think me a heathen?  I will not carry soiled linen!"  Grace points to one of her castles and in the background is the ghost of The Great Hunger. Achill has a "terrible beauty".  

Cultural Collage

My parents immigrated from the Czech Republic in the early 1900's. In the distance, you see an ink sketch of the small village where both parents grew up. For holidays, my Mom baked the traditional breads and the much anticipated "kolaches", a yeast bun with filling. The beer, pork and cabbage were noted as the traditional meal and often served to guests. We decorated Easter eggs and performed with Czech dancing, puppetry and blocks of Czech fairy tales. My Mom and I often dressed in traditional costumes for special events and public appearances. A picture of me is on the front and my Mom's is on the back of the quilt.

Sonia Callahan
Piedmont, California, UA

Ritz Cruz
Milford, Kansas, USA

detail 1 / detail 2 / detail 3

To Survive Hitler

The picture was taken just before my Mom and her family had to hide from Hitlers Gestapo,the back reads: “Dear Uncle I'm sending you a picture Heil Hitler.” At this time everyone with a mental or physical challenge was also placed in the Gas chamber so Hitler could have his Pure Race. My Mom and her siblings have inherited a deformity of their hands and feet, where the fingers and toes are grown together and can not be stretched or straightened out so it looks like Claws. Grandpa cut firewood and grandma would go into town at night to sell it, barely making enough to survive, going days without food. Their hands always wrapped in some kind of cloth stuck with my mom .Even now she has her hands always in a pocket and never shakes hands when she meets or greets people.

“Tikkun Olam”  (Healing the World)

My piece celebrates my Jewish culture and heritage, so closely threaded into our society. This time of year we celebrate the harvest, giving thanks for the fruits of the earth. In the darkness of December we celebrate Chanukah, the festival of lights.

We are the people of the book, our Torah,  and we are charged to be “a light unto the nations”, so my menorah ‘s flames include our contributions in science, medicine, the arts, and that which is at the heart of our culture:  family, hearth and home, our core values of healing the world and caring for the less fortunate.

Rabbi Hillel explained it best
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, then what am I?
And if not now, when?”

Phyllis Cullen
Chico, California, USA


Wendy Ferguson
Wilson, North Carolina, USA


From Down Under

As an Australian now living and teaching in North Carolina I wanted to share the wonderful wild life of snakes,kangaroos and koalas that are part of the natural land. Symbols of the first Australians celebrate the Aboriginal Dreamtime.

Lessons Learned

I spent much time with my grandparents while I was growing up, so their influence on my life is far reaching. What stands out the most in my memory are two life lessons they taught me: 'When one door closes, another one opens'...and 'Get back on the horse again'.

Karen Newman Fridy
Lewisville, North Carolina, USA


Suzanne Gegna
Sebastopol, California, USA


St. Basil's Cathedral

A first generation Russian, I feel nostalgia for certain buildings, like ST.BASIL’S in Moscow. This is my Serigraph rendition, photocopied on fabric. Photo’s are grandmother, mother, aunt, father, siblings, myself. Binding is fabric 1933 Russian Newspaper with my grandfathers death notice. Green vines and flowers signify seasons, change, continuity.

Alias Grandfather

Frank Furgeson/Nitz born in Iowa, American Indian ‘Blackfoot’. Lived in Germantown, Wisconsin and married having 8 children. Imprisoned for Cattle Rustling at Waupun Prison, Wisconsin around 1940. Silhouette represents my mother at age 8 and her mother visiting. Last seen alive in Port Washington, Wisconsin in early 1980’s.

Lisa Gorski
Cape Coral, Florida, USA


Jane Kimball
Reedville, Virginia, USA

Window into the Past

My ancestors went to England from France, with William the Conqueror.  This is a picture I took inside a Norman Castle in Sussex, England.  The border was to evoke the hedgerows of  the countryside.

The picture was printed on muslin and also two pieces of organza to achieve the effect of looking in the distance.

Contents:  cotton, muslin and organza.

Witness: The Conception of World Peace

I believe in the culture of Peace. The photo transfer of a batik, the tie-dye border fabric and the macramé embellishment, reflect the visual icons of an era when I became aware of myself as a part of a greater whole. May we all see the possibilities of peace.

PeggySue King
Olympia, Washington, USA


Linda B. Laird
San Diego, California, USA


L'Homme de L'Ouest (Man of the West)

Lately, I've been learning about the French side of my father's family.  His grandfather, Frank Sabathe, lead a fascinating life in the Southern California desert.  My quilt illustrates a few of his achievements.   The historical society of Twenty-nine Palms, CA, is painting a mural in his honor.



In the Native American culture many things are Sacred. They include four herbs, in the East- Tobacco, West- Sage, South -Sweetgrass, and North -Cedar. Four Sacred Elements, Sea, Animal, Plant, and Air, and the four Sacred colors of my adopted tribe are Red, Blue, Yellow and White.  I have used photos of my herbs and transferred them onto muslin to represent the Sacred herbs. Seashell, Bone Bead, twine and feathers to represent the Sacred elements. Free motion and machine embroidery to accent the four Sacred colors. All within the Sacred Circle of life.

Rita Legere
Manchester, New Hampshire, USA


Kathy Lichtendahl
Clark, Wyoming, USA


Prince Edward Island is Heaven to Me

My quilt is about growing up as a 7th generation Prince Edward Islander. The photo is of my mother (left) and her sister in front of their Cavendish home (now Green Gables). The cradle shaped image in the middle is PEI. The background fabric is Island tartan and the circle is burlap. The berries in the wreath represent the many childhood memories of filling buckets with wild blueberries, strawberries or raspberries

Medicine Lodge Creek

The background fabric is hand dyed. The elk, shield warriors, and artifacts are authentic. A photo of the site during excavation was printed on photo transfer paper and also on organza. The organza was layered on top of the first photo to give depth.  Beads & rocks added.

Linda H. MacDonald
Powell, Wyoming, USA


Virginia O'Donnell
Portland, Oregon, USA

detail 1 / detail 2

Great Grandmother “Nortie”

Since I am the last of my generation, this picture and poem are all the clues I have to my great grandmother on my Dad’s side.  I would really like to know how she got from Cutchogue, Long Island, New York to Turner in Polk County, Oregon.


Ability with Disability

My photo-transfer collage features a Sonoma County sunrise,my love of horses, the strength of my Italian grandmother, the wisdom of my Irish/English mother. I actively participate in my world . I’m now “Unbalanced” ( my quilt title) but my art is still my passion in spite of my disability.

Cathy Ortelle
Cotati, California


Louise Page
Klamath Falls, Oregon, USA


The Gatherer

"The Gatherer" depicts my maternal heritage as an enrolled member of the Klamath Tribes.  Maklaks or People of the Lake, as they were known, believed that everything they needed to live was provided by the Creator.  Their main food source was fish which they supplemented with roots, berries and the seeds of the Wokas plant (pond lily).  Additionally they used the leaves of the tule plants to weave baskets which were utilitarian implements as well as being worn as hats by the women.


This piece shows the original blueprint from John Campbell’s patent application.  Ingenuity is not unique to Americans, but it is inherent to our history.  The earliest settlers had to devise solutions to problems due to lack of materials and other hardships which required self-sufficiency.  Ingenuity continues to be valued today.


JC Pollock
Mundelein, Illinois


Barb Pozek
Kimberling City, Missouri, USA



The first of my ancestors came to this land in 1641. When he died the next year, he left behind an infant son, a will, and a list of all his worldly goods. I was interested in seeing that rocks were listed there and wondered why they would be valuable. For fencing?  For foundations? As a tool?

I mused about rocks in general. Solid and steady, they last through time with little fanfare that they exist. They do their job quietly. So, I muse, my family has with little fame, seldom any fortune, steadily working for their existence and the generation to follow.

A Place for Him, Too

My nephews were adopted from Ethiopia and are shown wearing traditional Ethiopian garments.  The background text and the embroidered quote come from Barack Obama's 2004 speech to the DNC.  The message is: "we are all connected as one people" - E Pluribus Unum.  America has a place for each of us.

Suanne Reed
Chicago, Illinois, USA


Robin M. Robboy
Atlanta, Georgia, USA


Warhol Family Matzo Ball Soup

Food is central to my family’s ethnic heritage; no celebration is complete without it.  There is no more iconic and ubiquitous symbol of that delicious tradition than Matzo Ball Soup.  It takes me home, connects me to loved ones long gone, it fills my tummy, my heart and my soul.

Dream Self

Because my Japanese heritage has greatly influenced my quilt making, I chose Allena Hail's interpretation of me, shown in Heian era kimono, for this challenge.  I strip pieced kimono fabrics, given to me by a Japanese friend, Sumiko Minei, around the image.  The embellishments are from my collection of Japanese souvenirs.

Scarlett Rose


Ann E. Ruthsdottir
Brunswick, Maine, USA



Although I was twelve when my maternal grandmother died, I have very fond memories of her. When I decided to create a tribute, I discovered she came to the US from Canada when she married my grandfather. Since my maternal grandfather's lineage dates from the 1600's, I always thought 'our family' had been here for years. Knowing that I am really second generation American, is a revelation. Not sure if it changes my outlook. However, it really surprises me that it was never mentioned.


I feel a special kinship to my maternal grandmother who sacrificed for us. She left her village for two years and moved to Bombay so I could attend an English school. She married at thirteen and raised ten children. She couldn’t read or write but was patient, kind, smart, caring and hard working.

Meena Schaldenbrand
Plymouth, Michigan, USA


Meena Schaldenbrand
Plymouth, Michigan, USA



Holi, the Festival of Colors in India celebrates winter’s end. People spray colored water with water guns and throw bright, colorful powders at each other. The fun, joyful festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil when the demoness Holika is also burned in effigy and includes music, dance, and feasting.


Disputes About Lasers are Better
Settled with Words than with Lasers

My community? The Internet. The funniest things about the Internet as a community: 1. forgetting those user names are attached to real people, 2. endlessly arguing with those people about very inane things, and 3. getting angry about it (while pretending you're not).

Maggie Schreiter
Ewing, New Jersey, USA


Merrie Jo Schroeder
 Port Angeles, Washington


Great Aunt Rose

This piece is a tribute to my Great Aunt Rose who made beautiful, Grandmother's Flower Garden scrap quilts. She didn't teach me to quilt but my mother always told me that I inherited the "quilting gene" from Aunt Rose. Thank you, Aunt Rose, for sharing.

Memories of Jane

Being a cultural "mutt" of sorts, my family did not cling strongly to one particularly aspect of our genealogical background.  But being from Berks County, PA, where there is a strong Pennsylvania Dutch (or German) Heritage, and very close to Amish country, some of our traditions, especially food, reflected both of those cultures.  The distelfink birds represent this as they are symbols of luck and good fortune and often seen in Hex Signs on barns in the area.  The Pagoda is a symbol in Reading, PA, my hometown.  The photos are each of four generations, one when my mother was a child and the other with my daughter as an infant.  The jewelry piece in the right hand corner is one of my grandmother Jane's earrings.  The connection I have to my mother and grandmother is the strongest and I believe that the culture of the women in a family helps to shape each new generation and is the best vehicle for passing down tradition.  I want to dedicate this piece to Jane.

Michele Sheets


Louisa L. Smith
Loveland, Colorado, USA

back / detail 1 / detail 2


Born in Indonesia in 1943. When Indonesia got there independence, it got quite dangerous and we fled to the Netherlands in 1951. Immigrated to the United Sates in 1960…became a U.S. Citizen in 1968.

Elements, Spirits &
One With Mother Earth

I made this piece in honor of my maternal Grandmother, who was "Tuckahoe" and my husband's paternal Grandmother, who was "Cherokee".  Both, Tuckahoe and Cherokee were from tribes of the  Eastern Woodlands along the Mid Atlantic states of the USA.

Cindy Sisler-Simms
Woodbridge, Virginia, USA

detail 1 / detail 2

Sarah Ann Smith
Camden, Maine, USA


Who Are You?  Who Am I?

My family has never strongly identified with any ethnic group, nor are there any photos of anyone older than my grandparents, so my quilt is more about wondering who I am, who came before me, and who we are.  I don't look like either my mom or my dad... I've never looked like anyone in my family...not until my oldest son reached about the age of 11, when my cousin said:  he looks just like you did at that age.

Then, a year or two ago, mom (now 90) gave me an antique album with photos from about 1870-80 saying it was of her mother's family; the cover is on this quilt.  There are no names, no places,only but a note in mom's writing saying "I think this is your great grandmother."   I LOOK LIKE HER!  The cheekbones, forehead, nose, hands.... they could be mine.  Are they?


She Seams to Live On

Womanhood, Sewing Culture:  My piece is dedicated to my grandmother, Cordie Watlington Gibson. She was a seamstress in a menswear factory until she retired.   She passed on her sewing skills, work ethic, and "can do spirit" to her children and her grandchildren

Lynda Thompson
Henrico, Virginia, USA


Peggy Trickler
Henderson, North Carolina, USA


The Journey

Survivors and those who fought for their freedom are woven into my family, as Jew and Christian united in a marriage forged by their commitment to a future of hope and shalom for their children.  I am their witness and the sum of their experiences and dreams.  I am the child of their freedom and peace.

Her Coat of Many Generations

It is hard to identify our family's ethnic background, We think it is mostly northern European. Generations of strong women have lived in this country through good times and bad. Fabrics representing different eras - from 1830's until 2000's, show us 'threads that weave and bind' us all together.

Elizabeth Warner
Simsbury, Connecticut, USA


Kathy Zieben
Sugarland, Texas, USA

detail 1 / detail 2

Jewish Kinship

This quilt expresses for me the meaning of E Pluribus Unum.  I was a young Jewish girl when I read the remarkable book, “The Diary of Anne Frank”.  I was also exposed to a film on the horrors of the Holocaust on my confirmation retreat in 10th grade.  But, as an adult I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth, a Holocaust survivor.  She was a close family friend of my husband’s family.   After hearing her story I immediately thought of Ruth when this project was introduced.

We must never forget the horrors of this time no matter what religion you practice!

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