Marion Coleman

African American quilting

Memory, family stories, cultural change, and a world filled with color serve as inspiration for San Francisco Bay Area quilter Marion Coleman.  For over thirty years, Marion worked in youth and family services and now she combines this experience with her art to create work that explores memory, social change, and community.

Marion learned to quilt by emulating the quilts of her great aunts Corine Miller and Mary Porter and the narrative quilts of Nora Ezell.  Growing up in Texas, she learned to sew from her grandmother, Carie Porter, who taught her to make clothes.  Marion began to quilt in the 1980’s, and her work has since been exhibited in the United States and internationally.  She has completed public art commissions and received artist residencies throughout the Bay Area and beyond.  She has served on the board of the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland, the African Advisory Council of the Oakland Museum, and the board of the Textile Arts Council of the deYoung Museum.  She is about helping other learn about quilting and is an active teacher.

As a current master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program, Marion will work with apprentice Ora Clay, increasing and developing her skills in improvisational and narrative quilting, which are the foundations of African American quilt-making.

In 2010, Marion received support from ACTA's Traditional Arts Development Program to attend Unpacking Collections: The Legacy of Cuesta Benberry, a symposium on researching and using quilt history collections held at Michigan State Univerity Museum.  The symposium presented a unique opportunity for Marion to interact with historians, scholars, authors, and quilters who share in her interest in quilts made by African Americans.

Marion and her participation in San Francisco's Museum of the African Diaspora's Textual Rhythms exhibit are highlighted in the following feature from KQED TV.


Click on any image to view slideshow.

"Dancing with the Blues" by Marion Coleman, part of an ongoing series about women dancing.
"Goddess of the Western Shore" by Marion Coleman, a narrative quilt about black mermaid folklore.
"Midnight Rider" by Marion Coleman, a narrative quilt that is part of a series about blacks in the west.
"Ready to Ride" by Marion Coleman, a narrative quilt about pioneer black women in the west.
"Riding High" by Marion Coleman, a narrative quilt that is part of a series about blacks in the west.
"Sierra Solider" by Marion Coleman, narrative quilt commemorating Buffalo Soliders who served as rangers in Yosemite Nat'l Park.
"Trail Blazers" by Marion Coleman, a narrative quilt that is part of a series about blacks in the west.
"Waiting for the Freedom Train" by Marion Coleman, a narrative quilt showing slaves in front of slave quarters.

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