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Everyday Artistry

Memorials of Satin: Funeral Ribbon Quilts in Context

Gathering satin florist ribbons from the gravesides of deceased loved ones and stitching them into quilts became a widespread practice among working-class southern women—black and white—from the mid-1940s through the early 1970s. What did these quilts mean to the women who made them? Why was this tradition confined to one region of the country, and why the limited timeframe? What can these brilliantly colored bedcoverings tell us about florists, undertakers, consumerism, frugality, death, and life in the 20th-century South?

Contact: Diana Bell-Kite (

Formed, Fired, and Finished:  The Journey to North Carolina Art Pottery

Pottery has long reflected the pride and wonder of our state, providing an immediate connection to our native soil, reminding us of traditions, and creating a personal connection between potter and user or collector. The long history of pottery in North Carolina is as colorful and varied as each pot.

Explore why production and use of traditional utilitarian pottery began to slow in the first quarter of the 20th century, and discover how potters responded to a new consumer aesthetic and new burgeoning market. Celebrated Tar Heel potter Burlon Craig sums up this new shift to art pottery best: “You could sell an old stoneware jar if it’s a cull or cracked or something, but when you get into that [art] stuff, why, people want it pretty well perfect.”

Contact: Michael Ausbon (

Quilt Stories

Anne Knox mourned her dead children. Patience White learned to read. Emily Maxwell had a vision from God. They each turned their experiences into quilts. Go on a storytelling journey through a century of quilts (1865–1965) made by regular folks using the materials they had available. What can these humble bedcoverings reveal about life in North Carolina? What can they tell us about ourselves?

Contact: Diana Bell-Kite (