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[teacherartexchange] Great lesson Idea - Weya Story Quilts from Zimbabwe


From: Judy Decker (jdecker4art_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Mar 06 2011 - 09:03:10 PST

Greetings Art Educators,

It is no secret that I have a passion for African art. I LOVE the
Story Quilts made by the Weya women of Zimbabwe - a relatively new art
form for them (since 1984).

Africa Direct has one on eBay right now offering a minimum bid of only
$50 - called "Village Life". I just looked around my house and have no
place to hang it (plus I promised my hubby to "sit on my hands" for a
while so I don't place bids -- grin. I must post a picture soon of my
wonderful elephant mask from Burkina Faso. I named him "Numi" - short
for Nunuma). I am at the point where I must take something down if I
buy something new. If I were still teaching I would snatch up one (or
more) of these and do a lesson. Younger children could use scraps of
wallpaper to tell their story (or even fabric). Older children could
use a variety of fabrics - including some cultural fabrics to
represent their heritage (if they wished). Also, make a connection to
Faith Ringgold. Each and every one I have seen is charming - and so
colorful. The one I like best is "Responsible Husband" on the Africa
Direct site, but the asking price is higher.

Here is the story of the quilts (copied from Africa Direct):

The Weya quilt is a product of a group of women living in rural
Zimbabwe who were taught by the European artist Ilse Noy. Ms. Noy came
to Zimbabwe in 1984 as a member of the German Volunteer Service. After
working for three years at the Cold Comfort Weaving Co-operative on
the outskirts of Harare, Ilse moved to Weya, a small communal area in
Zimbabwe . There she taught local women sewing and painting skills,
and appliqué and embroidery techniques.

Today the Weya quilt workshop has become a veritable industry and the
quilts are sold across Zimbabwe, in neighboring countries, and in
fact, all over the world. The diverse themes depicted on the quilts
reveal many aspects of the Weya women's culture. The quilt-makers have
in effect translated their daily life into their works, alluding to
their marriage, their husband and children, sexuality, death, spirits,
ancestors, hopes and worries. The quilts are inspiring expressions of
humanity and have proved to be great sources of revenue for the brave
artists who make them.

For more information and other examples see Ilse Noy, THE ART OF THE
WEYA WOMEN, by Baobab Book, 1992, 1994

To view these, go to Africa Direct:
Enter Weya in the search feature and you will find 28 marvelous story
quilts - many now reduced (which saddens me). I have come to be close
friends (virtual friends) with Eliza (owner). I know she paid a fair
price for all of these (maybe purchased on her trip there last
summer?) and may very well be selling them at her cost now.

The book to compliment your lesson is available on Since I
have no room for a quilt, I may buy the book to enjoy the images.

TAB folks, I know you don't do lesson plans the way other folks do,
but it is good to show where artists get ideas. These women learned
from another crafts person and now tell the stories of their life
through fabric. Fabric applique has long been a part of many African
cultures (primarily in West Africa). Connections are important.

If any of you do a lesson - with or without making a purchase of your
own Story Quilt - please let me know. I would like to see images. No
need to send a lesson plan. I am still contemplating putting an art
education site back on line - but it won't have detailed lesson plans
- only sparks of ideas with images. Writing detailed lesson plans has
no benefit to me - never did (except when I had to write them for a
grade in graduate school).


Judy Decker

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