Frances Bell

home at last – for all the mes

Reflections on the #FemEdTechQuilt inspired by Uzoma Samuel Anyanwu


You may not have time to view the entirety of this wonderful 45-minute video but please dip into it/ or even watch the whole thing. It’s fabulous! – maybe watch it while you read!

I am working with some very inspiring and talented colleagues on a short chapter for the #HE4Good open access book.  Listening to Uzoma is so inspiring for me. When I think of the #FemEdTechQuilt, I find that I think much more about the process than the product. But of course, that may be influenced by the absence of the material quilt product(s) from their intended future as agents in activism in Care and Justice in Open Education. COVID and the pivot online dampened that agency, I think. We have the lovely Digital Quilt https://quilt.femedtech.net/quilt/ – it’s fab – but so many of the community around the quilt were consumed with the pivot online in education that the digital and material quilts seemed to tend, quite rightly, to fade into the background. They may however have been present in people’s hearts and we can’t know that. We did have a lovely and moving reflection at https://oer20.oerconf.org/sessions/o-127/ at OER20.

Counterpoint of an artist’s journey

Uzoma Samuel Anyanwu spoke of his journey and learning as a fabric artist through painting, photography and fabric collages of human faces and bodies: and how these art forms complement each other.

Speaking about the reception of his work in Nigeria, he commented that on social media his work was seen as feminine work and hence craft rather than art. In the video, he speaks about his move into turning his work into quilts. He has an abundance of fabrics, many reused from garments: important to him from an environment ethics perspective.

His move into adding quilting to his array of techniques is hampered by the expense and reliability of the power supply –

“power can go off at any time and we don’t know when it will come back”

as well as the cost of a long-arm quilting machine.  Uzoma sees himself as an “indigenous artist” who sources his materials from his own country, though the fabrics may have originally come from different countries/cultures/religions possibly impacting on the content of the designs of the fabrics.

Uzoma said “when you involve thread, it looks and creates a more impressive creation”  and this is his intended direction to move into embellishment of the collage/applique with stitch.

Uzoma named Bisa Butler as an inspiration https://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/stories/textile-artist-bisa-butler-stitches-portraits-patchwork.

Linking back to quilting the #FemEdTechQuilt

I found myself thinking about my personal dilemma of quilting the #FemEdTechQuilt s . I hadn’t anticipated this when we invited contributions of squares. My approach was that stitch added to squares – that’s my quilting philosophy !  The more stitch the contributors added, the less I added – on the principle of letting the contributors’ stitches sing. I have very little idea of how contributors felt about my quilting of their squares – I just had to get the quilts completed. I felt that my quilting added to many of the squares and leaving others alone benefitted them but what do I know?

From this you can see that, like Uzoma, I think that thread can improve a creation. Collaborative creation is challenging. And we have so much to learn from this process.

Let’s do it!

francesbell • April 7, 2022


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