The timing is, sadly, just right for a new show at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. It’s called Guns: Loaded Conversations, and if you think quilts are just a collage of pretty patches for beds, museum director Nancy Bavor says think again.
“They are not your grandmother’s quilts," Bavor says. "But what I like to remind people, is that quilt makers for 200 years created political quilts with a wide range of opinions on many different topics."
Quilts were sold in the early 19th century to raise funds for the abolitionist movement, and of course gay rights activist Cleve Jones conceived of the Names Project and AIDS Memorial Quilt in San Francisco in the mid-1980s.
Bavor told me this gun violence show, organized by Studio Art Quilt Associates, has been in the planning for two years. It's their way of marking the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. But the horrors of Las Vegas and Parkland High School have made the exhibition even more relevant.
My co-host Nick Abraham, a junior at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, notes he joined a walk-out from his school on the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting. He was also glad to see the work by Oakland quiltmaker Alice Beasley called Remembering Trayvon, honoring the Florida teenager killed by a vigilante -- an acknowledgment of the issues surrounding racially-motivated shootings.