Stitched Stories: Shauntay Grant and Family in conversation
Affiliated with the exhibition:
Stitched Stories: The Family Quilts
CURATED BY SHAUNTAY GRANT
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, thousands of Blacks evaded American slavery and migrated north to Nova Scotia. With them they brought their songs, stories, language, customs, and crafts. Skilled in such arts as quilting and basketry, these early migrants most likely coveted their creations more for their functionality than their aesthetic composition – quilts were a “best defense” against Nova Scotia’s harsh wintery climate. Yet somewhere in all the fabric, colour, and chaos, patterns emerged. And over time what was perhaps a haphazard approach to textiles evolved into a refined practice passed down from generation to generation, woman to woman.
Stitched Stories: The Family Quilts is Shauntay Grant’s tribute to two women whose creations have influenced her as a writer and storyteller, and sparked her exploration of how the politics of textiles speaks to her ancestry and experience of the social and political fabric of Nova Scotia. The exhibition features a handful of quilts from Grant’s grandmother, the Reverend Alfreda Smith, and her great-grandmother, Annie Simmonds (née Cain). Grant’s own creative response to the quilts – and equally, the stories they keep – has prompted a new ‘poetic patchwork’ developing inside the Gallery, and growing over the course of the exhibit.
Please join us as she invites her grandmother and other family members to consider the themes of the exhibit, and pay tribute to their matriarch (Simmonds) and the life-giving work she performed with her hands.