Cherokee National Holiday quilt show displays practice as art form
Cherokee National Holiday quilt show participant Joan Sixkiller stands with Cherokee Nation first lady Sherry Baker in front of Sixkiller’s entry “Tree of Life. Baker selected it as the First Lady’s Choice on Aug. 31 at the Sequoyah High School old gym in Tahlequah. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee National Holiday quilt show participant Avid Choate stands next to her entry “Vision” at the quilt show on Aug. 31 at the Sequoyah High School old gym in Tahlequah. It was one of five entries in the new Cherokee Nation Holiday Themed category and won second place as well as Deputy Chief’s First Lady’s Choice. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Holiday’s quilt show saw 82 entries during Labor Day weekend at Sequoyah High School’s old gym.
Entries were placed in approximately 20 categories and judged, with some receiving first, second or third place ribbons. Categories included Viewer’s Choice, Best of Show, Grand Prize, Chief’s Choice, First Lady’s Choice, Deputy Chief’s Choice and Deputy Chief’s First Lady’s Choice.
This year’s show also introduced a new judging style, as well as the Cherokee Nation Holiday Themed Entry category, which had to reflect this year’s holiday theme of “Family: A Bridge to the Future. A Link to the Past.”
“That has to be like a wall-hanging size, and it has to be whatever the theme of this holiday means to you. So when you look at their wall hanging, it should reflect that,” Debra Harl, quilt show coordinator, said.
Harl said professional judge and sewing educator Lynn Meeks was used to evaluate the quilts rather than viewers choosing the winners.
She said Meeks judged the entries in each category based on visual impact, design and workmanship. The entries were judged on use of color and fabric, use of design/pattern in quilt top, innovation/creation, quilting design, applique technique, quilting technique and finishing.
Harl said participants write a short story about what their pieces represent and that each entry is an art piece.
“That’s really what I love is that their artwork, that’s their artwork basically. Its not a painting on canvas, its not a painting on water colors or anything like that, but it’s fabric that they’ve done that same thing with,” she said.
Joan Sixkiller entered her quilt titled “Tree of Life” in the Appliqued category, and it was selected for First Lady’s Choice.
“It took me several months to do the applique work and then about two months to do the quilting,” Sixkiller said. “I believe it is an art form. It’s a way to express your own feeling, pick your own colors that you like.”
She said she believes quilting is making a slow come back, but more people are picking up on sewing by machine rather than by hand.
“I’m sure it’s easier and I know it’s faster, but hand quilting is so much more. It expresses your love more and all the hours that you’ve spent on it,” Sixkiller said.
Avis Choate entered the themed category, winning second place and the Deputy Chief’s First Lady’s Choice for her piece “Vision.”
“It’s just an art. It’s so beautiful. There’s nothing like piecing a quilt and hand quilting it. It’s good therapy. I’ve seen lots of beautiful quilts, but for me hand-quilted quilts are the prettiest,” Choate said. “I started things like that as a little girl around my mother’s knees. She taught us how to sew. You made blankets and quilts back then to cover your family. So that’s how I learned.”
After quilting for more than 30 years, she said creating her “Vision” entry made her understand the Cherokee heritage more, though she herself is not Cherokee.
“I married a Cherokee man and lived with him until he died, 51 years. And I never understood all about the Cherokee heritage. Making this wall hanging, I understand a lot more. I put in the clans and the old ways. I just enjoyed it very much,” Choate said.