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Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards

2017 Recipient: Peggie Hartwell


Peggie Hartwell
Narrative Quilting


Peggie HartwellPeggie Hartwell of Summerville traces her work to her grandfather’s stories, which became a lexicon of bright colors and haunting imagery—her own voice on cloth. Peggie’s creative and personal evolution was also nurtured by the quilts made by the women in her family. Those living threads were made from scraps of fabric left over from family sewing work or bits and pieces salvaged from clothes no longer wearable. In her childhood, snuggling up at night beneath a favorite quilt, she felt the comfort of her entire family: fragments of her grandmother’s apron, her grandfather’s shirt, and her mother’s favorite but worn-out dress, all interlocked in the quilt that embraced her and kept her warm.


A vehicle for her own memory’s journey, Peggie’s quilts are also a means of engaging with her community and in contemporary issues. Her quilts are inspired by diverse sources, from her childhood memories of rural South Carolina, to current issues, like the plight of children walking from Central America to the U.S., for example, or hunger and gang violence. Her fabric artwork is in the collections of major museums across the U.S. and has been exhibited throughout the country. She has been featured on PBS’s Reading Rainbow and several documentaries about quilting.


Hartwell is founder and instructor for Voices on Cloth, which promotes the art of quilt-making with a focus on working with K-12 students via classroom programs. Voices on Cloth preserves the story quilt and quilt-making traditions, fostering creative thinking and the concept of art as a visual language. Hartwell’s students learn new avenues for self-expression through making story banners, fabric murals, and biographical story-quilt blocks, which are often assembled into fabric books.


Hartwell earned a B.A. in Theater Arts from Queens College, City University of New York. She holds a Certificate of Completion: Artists in the Classroom (Developing Strategies for Working with Students with Disability) from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind. She is also the artistic advisor for The Quilted Conscience, a national arts-based learning experience that cultivates intergenerational and cross-cultural bonds through story quilt workshops for young people who are new to the U.S. The workshops elicit students’ most precious memories of life in their home country and their dreams for their future in America. Hartwell is also a founding member of the national Women of Color Quilters Network.

About the Folk Heritage Awards


For more information about the Folk Heritage Awards, please contact Laura Marcus Green (803-734-8764), South Carolina Folklife & Traditional Arts Program Director.