Creativity and Crisis

Quilting Bee

Participants

Jada Harris, Project Manager, Atlanta, Georgia
Jada Harris is the project manager for The NAMES Project Foundation and is especially involved in the Call My Name workshop program. Harris also works as a curator with The Quilt. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She received her master’s in film and video from Savannah College of Art and Design.

Onifa Funke Adesanya-Awoyade, Ritual Performer, Seattle, Washington
Onifa Adesanya-Awoyade performs rituals for the Call My Name workshops as part of The AIDS Memorial Quilt. She works to bring cultural context to the traditions connected to The Quilt, especially in terms of the memorialization of loved ones on Quilt panels. Adesanya-Awoyade has a master’s in culture and spirituality from Holy Names University, speaks at local universities in Seattle, and regularly leads community college lectures. She became involved with The NAMES Project Foundation in April 2012, and has contributed one panel to The Quilt in honor of a relative. She will bring two new panels to the Festival this June.

Marquetta Bell-Johnson, Panel-Making Facilitator, Stone Mountain, Georgia
Marquetta Bell-Johnson is a panel-making facilitator with The NAMES Project Foundation. She is a textile artist helping families and others make panels to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died from AIDS and HIV-related illnesses. Bell-Johnson started her work with The Quilt about five years ago when the Call My Name project began. The project was initiated to raise awareness that far fewer African Americans were represented on The Quilt than in reality had died from AIDS. Bell-Johnson  is also known as the “Yo-Yo Queen,” and uses yo-yos (fabric medallions) as iconic decorations which characterize many of her quilts. Her great-grandmother and grandmother were quilters, and her parents were tailors.

Shannon Brogdon-Grantham, Material Culture Specialist, Bowie, Maryland
Shannon Brogdon-Grantham is currently a Graduate Fellow in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. Her interests in textile art, mixed media art, and preservation of both the tangible and intangible led her to volunteer as a tour guide for The AIDS Memorial Quilt during the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Her involvement with The Quilt began after learning about the unique materials panel makers use to preserve memories of those who have lost their battle with AIDS. As a result, Brogdon-Grantham was inspired to help share the stories of those remembered on The Quilt.

Rasheeda P. Burston, Teaching Artist, Call My Name Facilitator, Atlanta, Georgia
Rasheeda Burston is a fiber artist and quilter who volunteers with Call My Name workshops, helping people make panels for love ones they want to remember. To facilitate this process, she talks to the participants about the people they have lost. Based on these interactions, she offers suggestions or ideas for how they can decorate and personalize their panel. Burston is a fourth generation artist who learned to sew from her grandmother.

Clarissa Crabtree, Panel Maker, Display and Workshop Coordinator, Glendale, New York
Clarissa Crabtree has worked with The NAMES Project Foundation for more than twenty years. She was part of the leadership team that arranged for the entire Quilt to be displayed on the Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1996. Crabtree served on the Board of Directors for The NAMES Project Foundation for more than ten years and helped oversee The Quilt’s move from San Francisco to Atlanta. Along with volunteering in all display-related areas of The NAMES Project Foundation, including emotional support, panel-making workshops, education, and outreach, she completed her tenure as Board Chairman and has even helped transport The Quilt to Italy.

Donita Daniels, Panel Maker, Atlanta, Georgia
Donita Daniels is a panel maker with the Call My Name workshops and helps others to make panels for their loved ones. Daniels became involved with Call My Name workshops two years ago through her cousin, Stephanie, who was working on panels at that time. Daniels has since made panels for her four cousins and has also made eight other panels in memory of Black music and television entertainers. Daniels is a seasoned crafter, having sewed and quilted since childhood, and added several quilts and cloth scrapbooks to her repertoire.

Sonja Jackson, Panel Maker, Clarkston, Georgia
With the help of her daughter, her daughter’s friends, and her mother, Sonja Jackson made a panel in honor of her brother, Rodney Holloway. While it took Jackson ten years to make the panel, she found the process to be very therapeutic. Jackson volunteers with The NAMES Project Foundation and is called on to assist with Call My Name workshops.

Sheila Jones, Panel Maker, Decatur, Georgia
Sheila Jones is in the process of making a block (eight panels) in memory of her daughter, who passed away three years ago. Jones, along with another daughter and two nieces, began creating the block in August 2011 and has thus far completed three of the eight panels. Her daughter was a volunteer and each of the eight panels will reflect different aspects of her life. Working with family members on the project has been therapeutic for Jones, as has her work volunteering with Call My Name workshops. She learned much of her quilting skills from her mother, who quilted “for recreational purposes.”

Stephanie Laster, Panel Maker, Atlanta, Georgia
Stephanie Laster is a panel maker facilitator; she helps others craft panels for those they wish to memorialize. Laster is also a panel maker and has created an entire block for the Quilt. With a section for her mother, uncle, aunt, and nephew, she says the combined panels not only honor her family but are also part of her healing process. Laster has been HIV-positive for almost sixteen years. Along with making panels, she created a body map of herself stating, “She is the me I made, she is how I see me, versus how you see me.”

Christopher Locklear, Panel Maker, Atlanta, Georgia
Christopher Locklear moved to Atlanta from Detroit in 1987. Along with twenty other friends, he worked on eight panels in memory of a close friend lost to AIDS. The group is known as The Kenneth M. Williams Collective and held a “block party” to celebrate the completion of the panels this past May. Locklear is also a stage manager, a career that has allowed him to travel around the country for more than fifteen years.

Karen Meredith, Panel Maker, Manahawkin, New Jersey
Karen Meredith has worked with The NAMES Project Foundation for about fifteen years. Before assisting with The Quilt’s display in 2004, she led counseling sessions and conducted HIV testing with the South Jersey AIDS Alliance. Meredith recently retired from her career as a social worker but is still actively involved with The Quilt and continues to create panels. Of The Quilt’s allure and magic, she admits, “Once you are in with The Quilt, you are in with it forever.”

Ama R. Saran, Ritual Specialist, Washington, D.C.
From San Francisco to Cape Town, Ama Saran continues to build on her twenty-five year career as a writer, social justice advocate, health policy analyst, and social science researcher for AIDS awareness. Her partnership with The NAMES Project Foundation symbolizes a collaboration that empowers her work of  memorializing the lives of the many unknown and unclaimed victims of AIDS. She strove to rectify the inadequate representation of African Americans among The Quilt panels by contributing to the creation of the Call My Name workshops. Through her participation in Quilt rituals and AIDS educational events, Saran continues to encourage the Black community to stitch and document the many lives woven from threads of love and memory through panel-making.

Juanita Williams, Panel Maker, Orangeburg, South Carolina
In addition to being a panel-making facilitator for several years, Juanita Williams is often on the front lines of HIV/AIDS advocacy campaign through her volunteer work with The NAMES Project Foundation. Williams has also participated in the Call My Name workshops since 2001. She is currently involved with a “living quilt,” which consists of panels made entirely by people living with HIV. Williams states, “It’s like closure when you complete a panel, but handing it over to The NAMES Project, you know those names will be called and remembered.”