Monday, September 8, 2014

Remembering Cuesta Benberry

Each year the American Quilt Study Group salutes African American quilt historian  Cuesta Benberry of St. Louis, Missouri, one of its founding members, by auctioning off the SAME quilt among the members attending its annual research seminar!

Whoever wins the quilt gets to hang it in her/his home for one year and then has to return the quilt to be auctioned again to raise funds for the Cuesta Benberry Keynote Speaker Fund of the American Quilt Study Group.  Cuesta passed on August 23, 2007, a great loss to the quilt history world and to all her friends scattered around the world. She is sorely missed as we salute the 7th anniversary of her passing.

Cuesta's personal quilt collection and research archives now reside at Michigan State University Museum in Lansing, Michigan. Click here to see a video tracking some of the process of unpacking and documenting this collection. It is fascinating!

Photo taken by AQSG member Bettina Havig.

Label on the back of the quilt that is auctioned off each year, year after year.

The quilt AQSG re-auctions each year is a replica (not an exact duplicate) of the only quilt Cuesta ever made. The replica was made by another quilt historian, Xenia Cord of Indiana. Cuesta told me once that her church friends had a hard time believing she was known for her work in the field of quilt history because she never made quilts. However, Cuesta made her mark as a world re-knowned quilt historian, studying the wonderful quilts others made! Just google her name!
Cuesta was a great friend and I treasure her correspondence that I saved over the years. I have had the privilege of having this quilt hang in my office for almost one year.

When we return the quilt, we also send something else with the quilt that the winning bidder gets to keep permanently.

I am giving AQSG members a hint (below) of what I will send along with the returning quilt this year. Each was added to my teaching collection with this auction in mind.