Joan M. E. Gaither
Documentary Story Quilter
Since 2006, Dr. Gaither has opened her artworks to community participation, focusing on allowing people to "tell the stories only they can tell." Several of her quilts beginning with Trails Tracks Tarmac incorporate community oral histories, photographs, and objects documenting largely undocumented stories. The result has been a quickly growing number of volunteers for each quilt and a boom in personal history documentation by communities touched by her artworks.
Projects have grown to include as many as 750 participants for the Journey to the White House quilt and the Common Threads collaboration between 11 organizations and four schools in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The community quilting project continues with new collaborative programs currently in progress documenting church history in Greenville, North Carolina, patriotism and flags in Baltimore, Maryland, and Negro League baseball in Galesville, Maryland.
Click here to read an article written by Dr. Gaither and Genevieve Kaplan and published in The Exhibitionist in 2013 on community history documentation and the power of community quilting sessions.
Trails Tracks Tarmac Quilters
The Northern Arundel Cultural Preservation Society works with Dr. Gaither on the creation of the Trails Tracks Tarmac quilt and 25 additional smaller quilts, a portion of which are visible in the background.
St. Mark United Methodist Church Historian Irene Hebron leads a history session during a community quilting day for the Trails Tracks Tarmac quilt.
Trails Tracks Tarmac
Dr. Gaither speaks with a volunteer during a quilting session for the Trails Tracks Tarmac quilt at St. Mark United Methodist Church.
Trails Tracks Tarmac participants share history and information for the quilt and accompanying exhibition.
Quilters Around the Table
Trails Tracks Tarmac quilting session participants.
A volunteer adds stitches to interior squares on the Journey to the White House quilt.
A volunteer places the final stitches into the Journey to the White House quilt as it is hung for the first time.
Documentation at Salem Avery Museum
Quilting session participants frequently bring their personal photographs and memorabilia to add to Dr. Gaither's quilts.
Vanessa and Vicki Peterson participate in a quilting session on the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay quilt at the Salem Avery Museum.
Watermen and their descendants add stitches and information to the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay quilt.
Watermen family members share personal photos with Dr. Gaither for inclusion on the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay quilt during a quilting session on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Ms. Mary Washington shares her family history with quilter Peggie Bessicks during a Black Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay quilting session.
Telling Your Story
Dr. Gaither collects information from a family historian for inclusion on the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake quilt.
Black Watermen of the Chesapeake
An aerial shot of volunteers working on the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay quilt at the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center in Annapolis, MD.