Preface
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| ix In August 2009, my sister, Clare Luz, a faculty member in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, was asked by a colleague to organize a public panel on arts and healing in conjunction with ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan.1 Since Clare had long been interested in the intersection of arts, health, and medicine, she agreed to do a presentation . Knowing that I have conducted extensive research on quilts in my capacity as a curator at the Michigan State University Museum and as an art history professor at MSU, she then turned to me to ask if I might be willing to join her as a second speaker. Off the top of my head, I knew I had data on the AIDS Memorial quilts and a few other health-related quilts, so I tentatively replied, “Yes, but let me check my files to see if I have enough to produce a full presentation.” That night, as I looked through several physical and digital files I maintain , I was astounded at the breadth and depth of what I had already amassed on the topic and emailed her with a most definite yes. That night, I realized that the topic of quilts and health is an area of quilt studies that has been woefully under-researched. A few days before our scheduled presentation, Clare and I sat in a hospital room with our mother and fellow scholar, Betty MacDowell, who was recovering from hip replacement surgery . Partly out of curiosity and partly as a way to pass the time, we asked nearly every medical professional who came into the room to try to give us an example of one disease or illness they thought could not be connected to quilts. All of them indulged us, and some even wrote their suggestions on surgical tape, which I then applied to the back of my computer. Before they made their next round of visits, we did Internet searches. As it turned out, we found quilts for every illness they thought would stump us, and we had fun sharing the stories with one another and with the medical staff as they returned to the room. As a quilt scholar, I was very surprised to see that we were finding not just one quilt made by one individual per illness or disease but often thousands of quilts made by thousands of artists. Even more surprising was that so many large projects were connected to medical institutions, patient advocacy groups, survivors of illness, and medical educators. By the time we gave our presentation at the ArtPrize event, we knew that we needed to begin in-depth research on quilts and health. We partnered with MSU colleagues Heather Howard and Emily Proctor to conduct studies and presentations on Native American health and quilts. We joined the Society for Arts and Health, and with Beth Donaldson we created PREFACE x | Google searches for the subject of quilts and health; initiated a Quilts and Health blog and Facebook page; sent out calls through Listservs and social media for stories about health-related quilts; scoured the interviews on Quilters Save Our Stories (QSOS); created a Mendeley site to collect the scientific papers, newspaper articles, and blogs we uncovered; and established a special section of the Quilt Index to allow for easier searching of health connections to the over eighty thousand images and stories in this massive digital resource.2 When Carol Slomski, MD, worked at the Breast Cancer Center of Lansing, she attended an “It’s a Breast Thing” event to raise funds for and awareness of breast cancer and purchased this quilt, one of many pieces of art donated to the event. Slomski displayed it in her office, but when she moved to another state, she gave it to her colleague David Anderson, MD, who hung it in the center’s main waiting room. He brought it with him when the Breast Cancer Center merged with the MSU Women’s Imaging Center, East Lansing, Michigan, and it now hangs in a patient waiting area there. Center personnel say they get many great comments about the piece.3 Figure 0.1. Fighting Breast Cancer, One Breast at a Time, Marie, Clarice, and Lucille (last names not identified), Lansing, Michigan, 2010. 38.5" × 51.5". Collection of the Michigan State University Women’s Imaging Center. Photo by Marsha MacDowell, February 2016. | xi Figure 0.2. Waiting room, Michigan State University Women’s Imaging Center, East Lansing, Michigan. Photo by...


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