Based on historical records, secondary sources, and oral history interviews with quilters across Kentucky, Dr. Pearlie Johnson discusses 19th century quilts made by black women living and working on slave plantations, traditional quilts made by African American women of the 20th century, as well as contemporary art quilts made by women of all cultural groups of the 21st century. Her work explores women's history, storytelling, identity politics, social activism and empowerment. Her study of quilts in Kentucky is aimed at examining cross-cultural parallels in technique and assemblage, as well as revealing unique designs.
Dr. Pearlie Johnson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Pan-African Studies, with a secondary appointment in Fine Arts. Her seminal work African American Quilts: An Examination of Feminism, Identity, and Empowerment in Fabric Arts in Kansas City explores a complex system of signs and symbols that reveal layers of social and cultural meanings. Professor Johnson was awarded a Research Initiation Grant from the College of Arts and Sciences to help fund her research project on documenting African American women in the quilting arts in Kentucky.