21 January 2011

Black History Month Flyer

With 11 libraries each holding their own Black History month events from as early as January through to the end of February, we wanted to "package" these independent events together with a common visual element to use for promotional purposes.

I had a few ideas I began to develop, but the one I found most intriguing and promising came in the form of using a "freedom quilt." These quilts were often used to help communicate with escaped and/or former slaves as they traveled northward in search of more hospitable cities and downs to relocate in. Freedom quilts were used by residents in order to indicate a variety of messages, such as if their home was a "safe house" to visit, and what kind of landmarks for travelers to be looking out for--for both good and bad reasons.

I spent a lot of time image resourcing but couldn't locate any public domain photos of any historical freedom quilts. Instead, I used a quilt off of an art CD set we had just purchased, "Art Explosion 800,000." That's right, this 6-CD set has 800,000 images on it, but only a few quilts. 

Since it wasn't a bona-fide freedom quilt, I wondered how I could turn my rather plain quilt into something more relevant to Black History. I decided to infuse into the quilt images of individuals who were influential in advancing the rights and heritage of black Americans. I did this by "sewing" portraits of these people right into the quilt pattern itself, by reducing the transparency of each portrait so that a little of the fabric wrinkles and colours came through into the portraits. As a result, I ended up with a quilt that displayed 24 prominent leaders who championed the rights of America's black community and helped to transform our nation along the way.

The final quilt image became the front of an 8.5x11in flyer. On the back, a listing of all the related Black History Month events was included. I used an enlarged image of the same quilt to become a border around the page and another image, a white cotton surface, as the background. 600 copies were send out to the 11 district libraries. The quilt image will also appear as an ACLD homepage web ad and will be seen in conjunction with other related materials. 

I can't help but to think how awesome this would be if it were a real quilt!

Addendum: If you would like to download this flyer from the ACLD website, here's the link:


  1. I completely agree...this would be an awesome quilt! Nice job.

  2. I've been reading the Elm Creek Quilt novels, a series I have come to love. I think there are about 12 or so books in the series. In "The Runaway Quilt" the story is about tracing a quilt that had been used as a freedom quilt. Descriptions are given of some quilts and information given about the Underground Railroad. What a clever idea you've come up with in using the quilt as you did. Makes not only Black History Month interesting, but also the quilts that were used for freedom. Good shot!