The exuberance is because the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum opens Sept. 15.
A ribbon cutting celebrates more than a decade of hard work by people who had a vision. I thank them because their efforts are delivering a gift to the community.
My last column was about our textile heritage. There’s no better way to showcase that legacy than with art made by artists upholding the timeless tradition of quilting. As a sign this was meant to be, SQTM is located in a re-purposed cotton warehouse on Bradley Street. Past meets present. In a flight of fancy, I imagine that fabric manufactured locally ends up in a quilt displayed at the museum.
A perfect fit of location and possibilities, SQTM will blow the lid off expectations and gain national attention. Why do we want to be noticed? Economic impact is a huge reason.
Rotating exhibitions make Carrollton a unique destination and attract tourist dollars. Quilt enthusiasts from this region and beyond will attend classes, and future plans include programs for children. The Convention and Visitors Bureau calculates an economic impact of $100 a day per overnight visitor and $50 per person per day for day visitors.
These dollars will land in the cash registers of restaurants, hotels and gift shops. A compelling case can be made to support this new venture by observing a model of what success looks like. The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Ky., revitalized that small town. What can happen here if we embrace SQTM?
While economic data is useful, I can’t overlook other benefits. A museum enhances the cultural environment and becomes part of our identity. When I was young I loved going through my mother’s jewelry box. It was filled with sparkling things, and I was transfixed. A museum is like a jewelry box — it holds what is precious. Now we have a space to hold jewels of the textile industry. John Keats said it well, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
The West Georgia Quilting Guild is celebrating its 25th anniversary and I attended a gathering to meet local quilters. Their skill and training were on display during a show and tell, and as I observed Robbi Leeper’s workshop on paper piercing. That’s a technique for handling odd angles and very small pieces that don’t lend themselves to traditional template piercing.
Violette Denney is one of the guild’s first members and explained why she quilts. She remarked, “I’m creating something I can cherish. Quilting is a part of everyone’s heritage, and it records history.”
I think all cloth desires to be a quilt. Remnants of fabric without a designated purpose are sewn with love and turned into a jewel. Many of these gems have a home on Bradley Street, to be displayed for everyone to cherish.
But this is about more than exhibiting beautiful craftsmanship. I need to live in a city that has a museum. It makes a statement that we value history and preservation. Businesses consider amenities like museums when choosing one town over another for relocation. What do you brag about when you say you live in Carrollton? Where do you take out-of-town visitors?
Last February I saw my first quilt exhibit at the library and it literally took my breath away. The creative works, which are both decorative and functional, invite the viewer into a world of stories, tradition, and beauty.
I’ll have another reason to love the place I call home. In my dreams, everyone in town belongs to the museum family, feels ownership, and polishes our jewelry box with their support so the jewels can shine more brightly. Do you see yourself in this picture? Will you visit the museum? Be a member?
SQTM is starting in a small space but has ambitious plans for expansion. It can happen with your support. Where are you when the story of Carrollton’s growth is written and told? Are you standing on the sidelines or are you involved? Will you join SQTM on their walk toward a dynamic future for our community?
They can’t do it without you.
Murphy is a member of the Carrollton Creative Writers Club and the Carrollton Civic Woman’s Club. Reach her at email@example.com.