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Ora Clay - Fiber Artist

In Alabama, as a young child of four or five years of age, I observed my mother making quilts for our beds on a quilting frame of two-by-fours. I watched her stretch the balls of cotton that we grew into a batting layer, and wash and soften flour sacks for backing fabric. 


In 2011, my daughter took me to a series of classes at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco (MOAD), which was taught by master quilter, Marion Coleman. As a beginner I started with quilt post cards and then moved to a set of 12 small quilts to illustrate a calendar series I made every year for family and close friends. One of my latest calendar series is "Black Lives Matter" which consists of quilts of my husband, son, brothers, nephews, and cousins.   


Since those first quilts, I have done many quilting projects including cards, pillows, wall hangings, and bed covers. I have learned to use quilts to tell a story by incorporating photos, sayings, and events from my cultural background. My quilts have been exhibited dozens of times, in public buildings, art shows, galleries, and museums. They have also been featured in publications including one in the New York Times Art Section.  

I enjoy the process of quilt making. We have moved from coverings for beds to public and private art depicting who we are. Quilting not only allows me to create beautiful art, working with different colors and textures, but also to use the beauty of the quilting medium to draw the viewer into thinking about serious issues facing our world. 


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