Fabric Art & Story by Immigrant Women
Los hilos de la vida (The Threads of Life), is a mostly Latina cooperative quilt group in the Anderson Valley of Northern California. Since 2005, the group has quietly been making pictorial quilts depicting scenes of family life, border crossings, life in Mexico, dreams, and reverence for the natural and spiritual worlds. The universal themes of home, hardship and struggle are rendered with authenticity and straightforward directness. Vibrant with color, the quilts make an immediate impact on the viewer as they unselfconsciously capture the pure essence of the women’s stories. Even more impressive, the women have little or no previous experience creating art or quilts.
Los hilos de la vida had its roots in an Even Start / Head Start program – family literacy programs for low income families. By teaching a useful and engaging craft — quilt-making — Even Start teacher Molly Johnson Martinez enticed the mostly Latina participants to expand their literacy skills, having them write out in Spanish and English the stories they depicted in their quilts. These efforts were very challenging at first, but after six of the quilts were sold during an exhibit at a local restaurant, the women felt newly empowered both by the recognition they gained as artists and by the new income they brought to their families. Since then, the cooperative has grown in size and stature as the quilts have been exhibited at a number of venues in California and in nationally renowned museums in Chicago and Baltimore.
The Hilos de la Vida Gallery on this website presents selected quilts and stories from the book, Hilos de la Vida – Threads of Life: A Collection of Quilts & Stories by Anderson Valley Artists, now available for purchase from Art and Remembrance.