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Lee Library hosts Mitchell Q. Sellers quilt show throughout April

Meet the quilter at Friday afternoon’s reception.

Lee Library hosts a quilt show all month long featuring the spectacular quilts of local textile artist Mitchell Sellers. Full disclosure: Mitchell is a dear friend. And before you finish reading this, you will want to bask in his calm and colorful presence, too.

Good news: You can attend this Friday afternoon’s reception at 4:30 p.m. at the Lee Library. Just circle April 19 on your calendar and show up with all your quilt queries.

Of course I am traveling to the Berkshires to see his fabulous designs all in one place. Lucky me, I have seen some of them before. Take this beauty for example:

A quilt by local textile artist Mitchell Sellers. Photo by Sarah Wright.

Mitchell and I texted each other last week about how to weave film into this week’s column. I asked him what are the best quilt movies. Here is what I learned:

First, the talented Mr. Sellers loves to talk about the final scene in “The Color Purple,” where all the quilts are being used as tablecloths. For me, this is akin to Maria turning the curtains into children’s clothes in “The Sound of Music,” but what do I know?

Second, Mitchell reminded me that there were no quilts in “Barbie.” Given all its other pink merch, a “Barbie” quilt does seem inevitable. The only question is: Will it be made by Mattel or made by Mitchell?

My friend also shared that he can’t tell me how many times he has paused a movie just to get a closer look at a quilt. He continued: “The television series ‘Yellowstone’ has some real showstoppers. Most any movie that is Gothic Southern and wrought with angst. Almost all Hallmark Holiday Movies have quilts strewn about.”

Mitchell then described a different series involving a quilt called Cathedral Window Pattern. Inspired by what he saw, he made a pillow. He also figured out how to weave a cherished family recipe into a quilt commissioned by a childhood friend.

Finally, our text thread recalled that great documentary “The Quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend.” This award-winning film aired on PBS almost 20 years ago to the day; I will re-watch it this week. At just under an hour, it is the perfect opening act to any quilt show.

Bringing the convo back to Alice Walker, Mitchell mentioned her essay “Everyday Use,” from the April 1973 issue of Harper’s magazine. If you haven’t read it before, I bet you can at the Lee Library. Quilts figure prominently in this short story, for what they mean especially to African-American women. Themes of agency, identity, and legacy account for much of this symbolism.

When I think back to October 1992 when I saw the AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed on the National Mall, I doubt I connected it to Black women’s particular history of quilting. I had never heard of a quilting bee before, either. Thankfully, I now have a much deeper appreciation for this creative art form, which speaks to both activist and artistic sensibilities.

Finally, you can see more of Mitchell’s collection here. His quilts will be for sale after the show as well.

Wait, did you think Woman on the Verge could resist sharing a photo of Mitchell Sellers and Cary Grant? Think again.

Mitchell Sellers with Cary Grant. Photo by Sarah Wright.

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