Three years ago, I replaced the Mail Bag segment of Sewing With Nancy with Nancy’s Corner—a 5:00 interview segment. Sewing and quilting authors, historians, artisans, and even health professionals have been my guests. The world of creating with needle and thread is extremely diversified!
Booking guests for this segment falls into the lap of my administrative assistant, Lois. One day she brought me this article saying, “You must interview Kyra Hicks!” Not a known name to me, I read Lois’ research and told her to, “Make it happen!” Kyra’s documentation and writings about African American Quilters were fascinating!
Kyra agreed to be my guest and scheduled the interview for a few weeks in the future. The day of the recording, she left her home in Arlington, VA at 3:00 am, flew to Madison WI, took a cab to the studio, recorded two terrific interviews, and flew home—all in the course of 18-hours. Her stories were fascinating; she had the TV crew mesmerized, wanting more information.
During the first interview, Kyra featured the story of a quilt that is now owned by The Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The Bible Quilt, a pictorial quilt stitched by Harriet Powers, was originally sold for $5! The story sends chills up my spine. Kyra, a quilt detective in her own right, recorded the fascinating story in her book, This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt and Other Pieces Kyra says, “I had a ball following the trails of the quilt to five different states! I had no idea that the process would uncover new insights and documents into Mrs. Powers and her quilt making!” The Powers quilt in Boston is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts until October 2011.
Kyra also told me about her research of Martha Ann Ricks, a former slave and quilter, who presented Queen Victoria with a quilt in 1892 and made headlines in newspapers in the U.K., the U.S., and West Africa upon meeting the queen. Kyra reported, “I was motivated to learn more about Mrs. Ricks based on an article Cuesta Benberry wrote on Mrs. Ricks and her quilt. I wanted to learn more about this woman, who kept her dream of meeting the queen for fifty years.” The result of her research is the children’s book, Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria. It’s a charming book that I look forward to reading to some of the special children in my life.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kyra Hicks, both author and quilter, lives in Arlington, Virginia. She learned to sew in a seventh grade class and still has the sleeveless jumper she stitched! After seeing an exhibit of African American story quilts in 1991, she was inspired to tell her own stories in cloth.
When I asked Kyra to pick her favorite quilt, she sent this picture of Aunt Alzeda’s Sunday Concerts stitched in honor of her late great-aunt. Kyra said, “My Aunt used to actually host piano concerts on Sundays. For the sheet music on the quilt, I used permanent ink to create the score of her favorite song, Lift Every Voice and Sing.
Your Aunt would be very proud, Kyra — and the title of the song says it all.
Thanks for your kind comments about the “Friday Night LIVE” presentation at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup. It was a great show. I promise to post some pictures in future blogs. If you have Sew Expo pictures, please post them on my Facebook page!
Bye for now!