New Jersey Proud: African-American Quilt Making on Display

ByNiki Hawkins WPVI logo
Sunday, February 16, 2020
If These Quilts Could Talk
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'If These Quilts Could Talk' exhibit at the Trenton City Museum

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- In Trenton, there's a new exhibit that stitches together stories with art and culture in the African American community.

Inside the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion, Rose Miller looks over one of her creations.

"Took two months," she said, of one of the quilts on display.

It's all part of an ongoing exhibit called 'If these Quilts Could Talk,' showcasing local works from members of the Princeton Sankofa Stitchers Modern Quilt Guild & the Friendly Quilters of Bucks County.

"It's an art form, these are textile artists," said Co-curator Jane Malloy. "These are people who are creating their voice within them as artists but also speak to the larger community and global community."

The tradition of quilting has deep roots in the African American community from the days of slavery to today's modern works.

Each quilt has its own colors and pattern, but it's the stories stitched inside that are waiting to be discovered.

That colorful work by Rose uses fabric she bought on a trip to Ghana.

"The fabric from Ghana has elephants, it has symbols of Africa," said Rose Miller of The Friendly Quilters. "When I use African fabric I really get excited because all the visions come to me of what African Americans have gone through, it just reflects what we have come from and our ancestors."

Gail Mitchell likes to document people and important events in her pieces.

The "Obama" quilt she made brings history alive with special signature squares that were brought to and signed by attendees of the Democratic National convention during President Obama's historic win.

"I take little squares and I've taken them with me to a lot of different venues and events and I ask people to sign these squares and I put them together in a quilt. And that's what's on the Obama quilt," she said.

The exhibit includes a log cabin quilt from the 1800's and newer quilter Rose Mary Briggs pays homage to that style and the famous Gee's Bend quilters of rural Alabama with her piece called "Roof Top."

"I took Salvation Army and Goodwill's best. Shirts, pants and other materials to put the quilt together," said Briggs.

The exhibit continues until April 19th, and also features workshops and demonstrations, for more information head to their website at

The "If these Quilts Could Talk" exhibit continues until April 19th, and also features workshops and demonstrations.

Trenton City Museum as Ellarslie website:

Museum Hours: Wednesday-Saturday: Noon to 4pm

Trenton City Museum, Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park, Trenton, New Jersey

Phone: (609) 989-1191

Fax: (609) 989-3624