Fabric of a Nation: Art Quilts and Immigrant Stories

This exhibit is no longer on display.

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Quilts are often much more than simple pieces of cloth stitched together. For those who make them, they represent hours of time, thought, and labor. For those who admire them, every element tells a story – from the fabric used to the techniques present to the final design. From Danish immigration to the United States, to the people who come to America by crossing the southern border, to the Hmong people who came as refugees from Southeast Asia, explore quilting traditions that represent three different immigration stories.

Although the method by which people have arrived in America may differ, the stories behind them remain important, compelling, and a reminder of America’s enduring reputation as a land of opportunity.

Some of the quilts featured in the show are from the Migrant Quilt Project. These quilts will be on display at venues across Iowa from 2023-2024.

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Community Story Cloth Quilt

For the exhibition, the Museum of Danish America, in collaboration with the Elk Horn Public Library, asked residents of Elk Horn and surrounding communities to make their own quilt square inspired by Hmong story cloth traditions. From children to seniors, from people who have moved to the community recently to those who have lived here for their entire lives, the quilt squares share parts of their own family or individual story. Watch their interviews below.