Recently Shelly Zegart wrote to tell me about the International Honor Quilt. You recognize Shelly’s name —she’s known to millions as the executive producer and host of the monumental documentary series Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics. You may not have heard of the International Honor Quilt, but you might remember its famous sister, Judy Chicago’s historic and provocative art installation “The Dinner Party.”
The International Quilt project (for a time it was also called the International Quilting Bee) was launched in 1980. Judy Chicago invited the submission of small triangular quilts honoring women from around the world to tour with “The Dinner Party” which is now permanently housed at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn (New York) Museum. Judy, together with Through the Flower, a nonprofit organization she founded, created this project to further the goal of ensuring that women’s achievements will be preserved. Ultimately, 600 quilts, from across the United States and Canada and as far away as Australia, South Africa, and Japan, were collected.
Now, thanks largely to the matchmaking efforts of Shelly Zegart, the International Honor Quilt has a permanent home at the University of Louisville (Kentucky) Hite Art Institute. Shelly points out that Kentucky, because of its longstanding quilting heritage, is the perfect home for this important piece. She’s described the quilt as a time capsule from the 1980s and adds, “The International Honor Quilt is more than just an artifact to hang in a museum, but a living and breathing testament to women’s worth and power to change society.”
That’s pretty special…Jan Magee, The Quilt Life