Karen Musgrave




Karen Musgrave




Karen Musgrave


Carolyn Kolzow

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Iris Karp


Naperville, Illinois


Kim Greene


Carolyn Kolzow (CK): This is Carolyn Kolzow and I am doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Karen Musgrave. Karen is in Naperville, Illinois and I'm in Beaverton, Oregon so we are conducting this interview by telephone. Today's date is April 2, [2008.] and it is 3:30 in the afternoon. I'm conducting a special Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview based on the exhibit "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece." Karen, tell me about your quilt "Shattered" that is in the exhibit.

Karen Musgrave (KM): First I should say that my mother-in-law Dorothy has Alzheimer's so when Ami Simms put out the call for a special exhibit based on Alzheimer's, it really got the idea that I had in my head for a quilt for my mother-in-law to come to fruition. She put out the call for quilts, and I immediately started working. The quilt came together very, very quickly and I did it all in three days. I started by dyeing the background. The background is done using Mickey Lawler's techniques [from her book.] "Skydyes." I wanted to have a grid to kind of show the normalcy of days, and yet there are areas where it is lighter or darker, which kind of to me represents the light of the good days and the dark of the bad days which comes with Alzheimer's. My mother-in-law is dying the death she most feared. So to represent her fear, her hands are in the middle of the quilt, and they are shattered. They are crossed, and they are shattered. The hands of my husband, which is her son, her grandson, which is Nathaniel's hands and my hands are reaching out to her, and this all represents love. I used a fabric from one of Lonni Rossi's fabric lines, it has exclamation points on it, for the three set of hands-- for my husband's, my son's and mine because there are a lot of exclamations that goes along with Alzheimer's. There is the realization day. There are the good times, the bad times, so I really liked that fabric to use for the hands. I was very, very worried when I cut fabric for the hands for my mother-in- law apart that I would lose the "shattered" parts. Lose the fingers--a part of it. Then when I started quilting it, my sewing machine started having all kinds of problems. The back of the quilt which--I usually have very, pristine backs, nice backs, has a lot of knotted threads because the timing of my sewing machine was off. But I could not stop. I just couldn't stop, and I didn't want to stop, and I decided the back represented Alzheimer's too because Alzheimer's is a mess. It is a terrible disease. Also on the quilt, I hand quilted little X's. These kind of represented the periods of time when my mother-in-law would have panic attacks because she had an awareness that she was starting to become like her mother. She would have these moments of just real panic, and those little X's throughout the quilt, some of them are red and some of them are in the brown color of the background, just represent those periods of panic that she had before she totally forgot everything. I was the first person to enter a quilt in the exhibition. It was less than a week after the call. Then I had to sit and wait to find out whether it got in because it was a juried exhibition. That was the worst, to have to wait. I think it was three months that I had to wait to find out whether or not my quilt would be accepted. I didn't really care though, I just decided that this idea had been noodling around in my head. I just never had brought it out, because I guess I didn't think there was a need. When I got accepted, it was just incredible--to be accepted into the exhibit. Another thing that I found--that I have found really interesting is that my quilt hangs next to Ann Louise Mullard-Pugh's quilt which is called "Shattered Memories, Shattered Lives." She had originally also submitted the same name "Shattered" and was told she couldn't because somebody else had it. She also used Lonni Rossi's fabric in her quilt.

CK: She did?

KM: Yeah, and her image is a circle that she shattered instead of hands, but the similarities and in the exhibit Ami has the exhibit laid out--when you see the exhibit, it starts with the early stages of Alzheimer's and then as you go through the exhibit the quilts represent the stages until you get to loss. So it has all the stages of Alzheimer's. You start at the beginning stages of Alzheimer's and then you get to the end where people have lost their family member or loved one or whomever. That was very interesting. It was just very interesting, Ann's quilt is very red. It is just interesting that the both of us had a very similar idea and manifested it in similar ways but different ways. Ann wanted to use the same title.

CK: That is fascinating.

KM: It was. It was very cool to find that out, because I didn't know that. I was always fascinated by her quilt when I saw the exhibit. The exhibit is a very powerful exhibit. I've seen it twice. I've white gloved in it twice, and it is just an exhibit that for me, I had to do in stages because I would always--once I started reading the artist's statements and looking at the quilts, I would begin to cry. That was one of the things that I also did a lot while white gloving was passing out tissues because it is a very emotional exhibit. It is a very powerful exhibit, especially if you start at the beginning and work your way through, or even if you start in the middle and work your way through. The quilts are just very, very powerful. I haven't seen my quilt in probably six months now, but it is always interesting to see my quilt in the exhibit and to watch people-- to be a fly on the wall and watch how people react to my quilt or anyone's quilt and the comments they make.

CK: What do you plan to do with your quilt?

KM: I have no idea. I have thought a lot about it, and I don't know what I'm going to do with the quilt when it comes back.

CK: How did your family members react to the quilt when they saw it?

KM: They liked it. I do a lot of things with hands, so that was not atypical. My son thought it was very weird when I went to him and said, 'You have to give me your hands. You have to let me trace your hands.' I literally traced everyone's hands on the quilts. I was like, 'Okay you have to put your hand and your arm down. You have to let me trace it.' They are kind of used to that too. They haven't seen the exhibit, unfortunately both times that it has been in the area, they all have had other responsibilities, but I think they were pleased that I made the quilt. It is part of their lives. I have always quilted since their birth, or I quilted before I met my husband. Matter of fact, the very first quilt I ever really made was for my husband's niece. We weren't married at the time. I was in high school. Quilting has always been a part of their [my immediate family's.] lives. It is not like this is an unusual thing, or a thing that they particularly feel they need to comment on.

CK: The quilts in the exhibit, did you find that they seem different from the book or what is on the CD?

KM: I think quilts are always better in person, always, always better when you can see them in person.

CK: Why would that be?

KM: Because I think you can see more depth. You can see more detail. I had a very difficult time getting through the CD. We were all required to call Ami's telephone and read our artist statement into her answering machine. I had to do it three times, because I would start to cry, or my voice would break and Ami did not want crying on the CD. The CD is very powerful because you can actually hear the person's voice talking about her loved one. It was like revisiting the exhibit, and I could only do it in very short periods of time, because I would start to cry and become a wreck. Then I would just have to stop, so I would say it probably took me five or six times to get through the CD. What I like about the CD is that you can make the image very big on the screen of your monitor. On the screen you can make it as large as you want, so you can really see the detail of the quilt probably a little bit better than the book. But I love the book too because Ami incorporated information about Alzheimer's, so you have the quilt, and you have a fact about Alzheimer's included with each quilt. I thought that was a great education piece. I think Ami is a phenomenal person, first to undertake this and second in her marketing strategy, because everything has an education process/part. The other really wonderful thing is the money that is raised through the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. All the profits go to Alzheimer's research, and it is specifically marked for research. It doesn't pay somebody's salary. It goes to research on this disease. You lose a person with Alzheimer's twice. First, you lose them when their memory goes, and then you lose them when they die. My mother-in-law is still alive, but she is gone. She doesn't recognize anybody. She doesn't know anybody, and it is the death she feared. It is a terrible, terrible way to go.

CK: She had spoken about her fear of this before?

KM: Yes, because it is exactly what her mother went through.

CK: I see.

KM: Exactly. She can't hear. She can't see. She spends her day in a wheelchair or in her bed.

CK: How many years has she been diagnosed with Alzheimer's?

KM: I think the diagnosis came before the actual realization, before it was really accepted within the family. There was a denial period. I'm trying to think how long my mother-in-law has had Alzheimer's. It probably has been at least ten years. It is very sad.

CK: It is definitely.

KM: To have a quilt in the exhibit, traveling around, educating people and raising funds, I think is just amazing. I don't think you can get much better validation then that.

CK: Has the exhibit come through the Chicago area twice?

KM: It was in Schaumburg at the Mancuso Show, and it was at a guild show [Faithful Circle Quilt Guild.] in Woodridge. When it was in the Schaumburg show, I went for half a day and white gloved. When it was at the Woodridge show--the guild is actually a Downer's Grove guild, but their quilt show was in Woodridge. I was in charge of the exhibit. I went and sat the entire time and passed out literature, sold books, sold CDs and walked around white gloving. I could talk to people about the quilts and the quiltmakers. It was a lot of fun having interviewed quite a few people [who have quilts in the exhibit.] by the time it got to Woodridge. It was very satisfying to be able to share some of the back stories and give people a little more information about the quilt artists. That was kind of fun.

CK: I bet it was.

KM: I knew things about the quilts, like the back of the quilts or stories about the quilts. So when people would stand and look at a quilt, I would walk over and I would say, 'Let me show you the back, because the back has the full story of the quilt,' or 'Did you notice that the center of the quilt is perfect but when you look along the outside it is not?' Because a lot of the quilts are very subtle in their message like Becky Goldsmith's quilt, the center is perfect and that is where your focus is. A lot of people would look at her quilt, and they wouldn't be able to figure out why this quilt is in the exhibit. But when you really look at it, the design gets more and more catty wompus as you go out from the center. It is interesting to see how when people look at things, what they see and how they perceive them. "Jackie's Chocolate Quilt," she [Joan Hailey Hanson.] wrote the full story about Jackie on the back of the quilt, so I love to be able to show people the back and show them the full story on the back of the quilt.

CK: To get the most out of visiting the exhibit, if someone were to have the CD, would they benefit from going through that first before going to the exhibit?

KM: Sure, I think having a little bit better understanding of the artists and the quilts would certainly enhance it. I don't think it is necessary, but I definitely think it would enhance the experience. I would recommend taking several days to do it and not try and sit and go through the entire CD at one time.

CK: How many quilts are in the exhibit?

KM: There are fifty-two quilts. So there are fifty-four artists because one quilt was made by four people and one artist has two quilts in the exhibit. So there are fifty-four artists and fifty-two quilts, and they have been traveling now for two and a half years. It was suppose to be a three year commitment, but the exhibit is doing so well. It has moved beyond the quilt world, which I think is very, very nice. It is moving into retirement homes. It is moving into Alzheimer's facilities. It is going to Alzheimer's conferences. So it has moved outside the quilt world and into the Alzheimer's world or into retirement homes where Alzheimer's is very much an issue. I think it is very exciting. We all have, as artists, decided that the quilts can travel as long as Ami can find venues. It was originally a three year commitment, and now I think it is at least a three and a half year commitment if not longer. We have all decided that these quilts can travel as long as Ami can find venues. I think is great too, that more and more people are booking the exhibit and more and more people are seeing the quilts. I forget how many hundreds of thousands of people have already seen the quilts. I think this is a very interesting phenomenon. You don't hear about exhibits of paintings traveling around educating people. I think this is a quilt phenomenon, and it says a lot about the quilt community.

CK: It does.

KM: I think that it is a good thing about the quilt community. I know that some people have decided to have their quilts auctioned off, because Ami does do auctions. My quilt is very personal, so I'm not sure I would want it auctioned, but by the time it gets done I might feel very differently. Once it comes home. I don't get overly attached to many of my quilts. I'm much more of a process person than a product person. Once the product is done, I'm usually moving on. I think because this is so personal. It having to do with my mother-in-law, I think I would have a family meeting to make sure that no one in the family either close or extended would want to have the quilt before I would decide to do something to raise funds or whatever with the quilt.

CK: That brings me to ask you about Priority Quilts for the Alzheimer's project. Have you participated in those?

KM: Yes I have. I have made the $1,000 Promise. There is a group of people--let me explain Priority Quilts which are small nine [inches.] by twelve [inches.] or smaller quilts that fit in a Priority Mail envelope. If you want to take one step further, you make a promise to raise $1,000 with Priority Quilts. There are a group of people who have decided to make a $1,000 Promise, and actually there are quite a few people who have already raised $1,000 and keep going. Betty Donahue has raised more than $5,000 with Priority Quilts, and again all the funds go to Alzheimer's research. It took me a while to commit, I finally just said that I had to make the commitment to make quilts and do the $1,000 Promise. I have donated one quilt, and I think a few postcard size which are four by six inch postcards. I plan to at least raise $1,000 dollars if not more with quilts. Ami has an auction every month, the first ten days of the month where she auctions off the Priority Quilts. She has raised, with Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative which includes the CDs, the books, the auctions, fees that are raised from the traveling exhibit, more than $157,000 for Alzheimer's research.

CK: What a wonderful idea.

KM: It is a wonderful idea. There is Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative gear too. You can get tee shirts and tote bags and water bottles, and I forget what else that you can buy in addition to the books and the CDs. Like I said, she doesn't make any money off of this personally, and it takes up a tremendous amount of her time. A lot of us volunteer for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative in different levels. There are a lot of people who are pulling together and dedicating a lot of their time, talent and treasure to this initiative. It is a good thing to be a part of.

CK: I would think so.

KM: I would certainly like to see--Alzheimer's does not run in my family personally, but it does run in my husband's family. I have a friend named Ron who has early onset Alzheimer's. I really wanted to make a quilt for him, but I couldn't come up with a way to express early onset Alzheimer's. By fifty his mind was gone. I just couldn't come up with an idea on how to represent early onset Alzheimer's which still frustrates me.

CK: Do you think of yourself as more of an artist than a quiltmaker?

KM: Sometimes I call myself an artist and sometimes I call myself a quiltmaker. I guess it depends on my mood, the day and the audience. I do think quiltmaking can be an art form. I do think of myself as an artist. I don't do the whole textile art thing, I'm very proud to be a quiltmaker. Someone who makes quilts and expresses myself through quilts. I don't know if I make much of a distinction most of the time.

CK: Do you belong to any art or quilt groups?

KM: I belong to several organizations. I have started guilds and belonged to guilds. I don't anymore. There are a lot of guilds in my area and when I moved back to the area, I decided instead of joining any one group I would play with them all. That has worked well for me. I think guilds are a wonderful thing. I belong to SAQA, Studio Art Quilts Associates. I belong to the International Quilt Association. I belong to the American Quilter's Society. I belong to NQA [National Quilting Association, Inc.] I used to belong to PAQA which is the Professional Art Quilts Association I think it is, but they meet on Wednesdays and I found it very difficult to get to the meetings. I belong to a little group called the Divas, but I haven't been in probably four or five months, due to weather and other commitments. I think belonging to groups is very important. I belong to two online groups. I belong to Postmark's Art, which is a postcard exchange group. I believe we are in our ninth round of exchanges. And I belong to a group called Chooseaday, which on the first Tuesday of every month. Cat, the woman who organized this, pulls a word out of a hat, and we all have to interpret the word through a quilt. I have found that group particularly stimulating and interesting. I'm on the Quiltart listserve. I'm on the Quilt History List, because I do love quilt history and participating in things that deal with quilt history. I'm a member of The Alliance for American Quilts. I'm the chair of Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories, this oral history project. I do feel strongly in supporting and being involved in quilt groups. It is very social. Even though you create alone, it is a very social activity which I like too.

CK: What are you working on right now?

KM: I'm working on a--there is a balcony in Tbilisi, Georgia, in old Tbilisi. When I'm in Tbilisi and when I walk down a certain street, the balcony is on the corner. If I go one way I go to Mia's house, and if I go the other way I go to the Georgian Textile Group's studio. It is in the old part of the city. This balcony, I have absolutely, positively always loved it every time I've gone by it. I finally decided that I have to put it into fabric and recreate this balcony in a piece of art. I'm also working on a mask. I have been doing a lot of collage with polymer, which does has fabric in it. I'm trying to incorporate more and more fabric into the polymer collage medium and kind of make this more of a bridge between the two worlds, because I really enjoyed collage, the texture, working with color, manipulating paper. Also I'm a person who usually has multiple projects going on all at one time. I'm also working on a quilt for my great niece, Makayla, because Makayla doesn't have a quilt from me yet. I'm doing an alphabet quilt for her. I like to do hand work. I have been making these little funky quilts that are seven [inches.] by seven [inches.] that are heavily embroidered, and I'm working on those because I want to donate more for the Priority Quilts. So I have multiple projects going on all the time, including things that I can pick up and put down. If I'm stymied with one thing, I find that if I go off and I focus on something else I will get the answer to whatever I'm stymied on. I can go back to that project. When I get too many things going on, my husband will say, 'You need to focus.' I will become very distracted and distraught if I have too many things going on, but I do like to have multiple things. I love to have hand work. I still hand piece and hand quilt and I love hand work appliqu and embroidery, so anytime I can combine all of those things I'm very, very happy. Although I do love my sewing machine, and I do love working with a machine. If I do too much machine work, I feel a disconnect. Also, if I stay away from my studio too long, I get very crabby and my family will say to me, 'You need to go create because you are very crabby.' I do get very, very crabby if I'm not creative for long periods of time. There have been times in my life where other things have gotten my attention, and I haven't been creative, and I'm probably unpleasant to live with.

CK: Describe your studio.

KM: It is a mess. [CK laughs.] I'm a very messy creator.

CK: That was my next question, are you neat or--

KM: No, I'm not a neat creator at all. I'm a very messy creator. When I create I just throw things. I will get things out, and I don't take the time to put them away [until I am done.]. I'm a pile maker by nature, so I make piles anyway and my studio is just full of different piles. I will tell you that I do like to clean it up, I don't like it to stay that way. Disorder really bothers me if it is too long. One of the things that I have been working on is going into my studio and spending an hour a day just kind of tidying up one little part of it. I'm easily extracted too, because I will look at it, and I will think, 'Oh this is perfect fabric for this project.' The next thing I know I'm creating a new pile. I'm easily distracted. I do, I do like to start somewhat neat. When I start something new, I do like to kind of clear away the old and clean things up. I am going through a process of purging and getting rid of some things and kind of deciding that I'm going to focus a little more in a certain area, so I'm letting other things go. Most of the stuff that I decide to get rid of I send to the Republic of Georgia. Magazines and books I will send to Kyrgyzstan.

CK: Tell me about your travels.

KM: At my first PAQA meeting, I heard Trisha Spitsbuller talk about her trip to Georgia which is in the former Soviet Union. It is in Eastern Europe. I was so moved by her talk that I went to her and I volunteered. I know that I wasn't the only person who volunteered, but I told her that I really wanted to help the textile artists of Georgia because of her. She was a participant in the 2nd International Textile Symposium. I went home, and I put a twelve point plan together, which tells you about my personality, on how to save the textile artists of Georgia, and I sent it to Trisha. Nothing came of it. I finally just said 'Okay fine, I have released it.' A year later, Nino Kipshidze, who is the founder of the Georgian Textile Group, was organizing the 3rd International Textile Symposium, and she went to Trisha and said, 'Do you know anyone from the States that would like to attend?' Because to present a paper or teach is by invitation only so she asked Trisha to recommend people, and Trisha said, 'I think we need to invite Karen Musgrave.' There were five of us that were going to go. We started having meetings and planning and putting together grant proposals for money. Slowly by slowly everybody dropped out until there was just me. I knew that I had to go because the idea of going terrified me. So I got on the airplane and thirty-six hours later I was in Georgia and my luggage was lost.

CK: All by yourself?

KM: I was by myself. It was 3:00 in the morning. I hadn't gotten any sleep, and I walked out of the airport not knowing who was picking me up and there was Nino and Daro, her daughter. We got into her Jeep, her very old, old, old Jeep ad the streets were terrible. We would go down into these craters and up these craters and down into these craters and up because the roads were so bad. And the houses, old Soviet houses and I thought, 'Oh my, what have I gotten myself into?' There was no water. There was no electricity. I was there for three weeks. I presented my paper on art quilts. I did a presentation at the symposium on art quilts, and I taught and started the Georgian Quilt Group. Not knowing--I didn't get a lot of information when I went to Georgia. I couldn't get Nino to tell me anything, so I just had a suitcase full of supplies. Everybody in my group did a very atypical Georgian thing because at the end of the symposium when we all got together, my group had finished quilts. Everybody had finished at least one quilt, we had a group quilt and some people had done two quilts and it was all out of my suitcase, because there is nothing there. It is better now, but there was absolutely, positively nothing there. I announced to the group if they would continue working, I would come back, and I would send them monthly supplies. Doing this of course not realizing how much it costs to actually ship things a third of the way around the world, but I did.

I have been back five times. I have started a lot of women in development and children in development projects. I had an orphanage project that I started to bridge the women of the community and the children in the orphanage. Because most of the children in the orphanage were not orphans, they were abandoned because their parents could not feed them. The relationship between the women in the village and the children in the orphanage was very bad. I stayed up all night, and I got a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to start a project. It didn't work out quite as planned, but it is going strong now. It is beautiful and all the girls that I taught the first time I was there have graduated. Their project now has sewing machines and electricity and lights. It is in just a beautiful room now. It [the project.] got a World Bank grant and now sixteen girls every day learn a skill, the skill of sewing. Plus they sell their things and get the money, which is desperately needed there.

I work with Nata [Burjanzade.] who is incredible. The greatest gift I think you can give anybody is to empower them so that they take what they have learned and do a greater good. Nata works with street children. Nata and Ira [Lavrinenko.] work with street children, former street children and they are teaching them quiltmaking. The last time I was there I spent five days with those children, and that was phenomenal. I also went to Akhalkalaki which is in southern Georgia in an area that is predominately Armenian and started a quilt group there. They are making baby quilts and working to bridge the world of the Armenian and the Georgian women there. That was a phenomenal experience. Very, very poor region, very, very sad place and now the women have something to do and colorful fabric to work with. My Georgian quilt group is still making quilts and I work with them, whenever I'm there. I will teach or talk to anybody I can about quilts.

I have been to Armenia and I've been to Kazakhstan and I've been to Kyrgyzstan. My first trip to Georgia, the American Embassy, specifically the public relations officer, asked me if I could bring the quilts of Gee's Bend, Alabama to Georgia. It was the only exhibition that I had a personal tie to so I spent a year making a proposal to take the quilts of Gee's Bend to Georgia, and I was successful. I took twelve quilts of Gee's Bend to Georgia. The agreement was that if I could bring the quilts to Georgia that at the same time, because I knew they were there, that there had to be quilts from Georgia also exhibited. So there were twelve quilts in one gallery of the quilts of Gee's Bend, and then another gallery there were twelve quilts, both antique and new quilts, from Georgia. I attempted the same thing in Armenia but it didn't work out, but I did take the quilts of Gee's Bend to three different cities in Armenia. This happened because the Georgian American Embassy opened it up to any embassy that would like to host the quilts they could. I was asked if I could go to Kazakhstan, and I didn't get out my map and didn't realize how far away Georgia and Kazakhstan really are. Kazakhstan is half way around the world. So I went from Georgia then to Armenia, came back to Georgia and then went to Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan I was successful, in that they also agreed that it would be great to have Kazakh quilts. So we had antique and new Kazakh quilts also hanging with the quilts of Gee's Bend. It is always interesting. You see the differences, but what you really see are the similarities. We have a lot more in common than not. They were going to have women from Kyrgyzstan come to the exhibit, but Kyrgyzstan had a revolution and they closed the borders. I was always very sad that the women of Kyrgyzstan did not get to come and see the exhibit, and for me to demonstrate and lecture and talk to them and share with them. I did demos when I was in Kazakhstan and demonstrated different techniques and showed people a personal technique of mine. I also met in Kazakhstan with the three different museums and that was the first time that was ever done, where the three museums actually got together and talked about textiles. There is a lot of competition.

CK: How exciting.

KM: It was very exciting because the embassy wanted to cancel the meeting because they didn't think anybody would show up and we didn't have enough chairs. It was the same way when I gave my lecture on the quilts of Geez Bend, the American embassy got one hundred chairs and they set up twenty-five and I kept saying this is not enough, because the one thing I know is when you talk about quilts people will show up and we ran out of chairs, there was standing room only for my lecture. The first country--the first city I went to in Armenia, Gyumri, I was packed in like a sardine. People were standing within inches of me while I was giving my lecture. We couldn't fit anymore people into the gallery, into the museum gallery, that I was in. I always knew people would come.

Two years ago, Kyrgyzstan invited me to come. So the agreement again was I would bring art quilts and that we would have the art quilts of the United States and we would also at the same time have the Kyrgyz's patchwork. Again, the embassy was expecting about 100 people and had refreshments for 100 people and they were totally out of refreshments because there were so many people in less than ten minutes. There were people waiting outside to get in for the opening. Quilts draw people. In Kyrgyzstan they never had so many people. They had school groups come in with children and it was just constantly having people see that exhibit. It is very gratifying to bring everyone together and to have it there. In Kyrgyzstan, I also went to Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan and spoke at the art university in Osh. Again it was standing room only, faculty and students. You couldn't sit anymore people in the room that I was giving my lecture in. I spoke for an hour. It was a brief overview of quiltmaking in the United States, so I started from our early history and went all the way to art quilts and what is kind of happening now. I passed around my quilted clothing and postcards and some of my smaller quilts that I had brought. My first question when I finished my lecture was 'Do all Americans hate Muslims like we have been told?' which was not at all what I had expected my first question to be. It was a male that asked--a male student that asked that question so I used logic with him, because that would be the best thing to do and I told him 'Why would I travel halfway around the world to share something I loved if I hated you?' And then I asked if all Muslims hated Americans. Of course he said, 'No.' My next question came from a girl which was written on a teeny tiny little piece of paper, because Krygyz women are generally very shy and it was--my next question was 'If you had to choice between your husband or your art, which would you choose?'

CK: Oh my.

KM: I thought, 'This is not at all what I expected.' I made a joke of that one, and I said that I was very fortunate because my husband never asked me to choose and it was good that he hadn't, which got them all to laugh.

CK: I have enjoyed this interview and I want to thank you for doing it with me. Is there anything else you want to share about either the exhibit or anything else?

KM: I want to thank you for doing this because I know it probably wasn't easy for you to do this interview.

CK: The interview will conclude at 4:15.

KM: Excellent.

CK: Thank you.

KM: Thank you.


“Karen Musgrave,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 14, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/2558.