History project displays images of conflict, change | SteamboatToday.com
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History project displays images of conflict, change

Mike McCollum
A large group of Steamboat Springs High School students work on a quilt at the school Wednesday afternoon.
Brian Ray

Steamboat Springs — American quilts often display homely references to the simple life while making use of traditional patchwork and embroidery. High school sophomore Journee Heiner's quilt, however, depicts a burning building with women jumping to their deaths. — American quilts often display homely references to the simple life while making use of traditional patchwork and embroidery. High school sophomore Journee Heiner's quilt, however, depicts a burning building with women jumping to their deaths.

— American quilts often display homely references to the simple life while making use of traditional patchwork and embroidery. High school sophomore Journee Heiner’s quilt, however, depicts a burning building with women jumping to their deaths.

Heiner’s panel was one of 12 depicting images of American conflict and change stitched into one of three large quilts for the Steamboat Springs High School history project, “An American Quilt.”

Heiner’s scene displays the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, where 146 garment workers, mostly women, died.

“The topic I chose to display on my panel was women’s rights,” she said. “I thought women’s rights was just about voting before this project.”

The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions.

Elsewhere on the quilt, a panel displayed the famous Rosie the Riveter WWII poster, where a woman in a red bandana flexes her bicep to prove her worth working in a factory.

History teacher Deirdre Boyd started the project at the high school last year after visiting a fabric store with her mother-in-law.

“There was a book there about how to incorporate arts and crafts into the classroom,” she said. “This project sounded like a lot of fun, and the kids seemed to really take to it last year.”

The inaugural quilts were displayed last February, which is African American History Month, at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

“This year’s quilt focuses on our civil rights movement,” Boyd said. “It gives students a creative voice in expressing the social, economic, legal and literary aspects of the ongoing struggle for civil rights in America.”

In addition to decorating a 12-by 12-inch panel, students turned in a research paper about their topic of choice. The interdisciplinary class also incorporates aspects of English teacher Maggie Glueck’s lesson plan.

“This project allowed students to explore different options of expression in the mode of differentiated education,” Boyd said. “If they are a weaker student at reading and writing, this allows them to use art and creativity instead.”

Julie Kuczkowski’s panel depicts the series of conflicts between colonizing Europeans and Native Americans.

“I’ve never really considered myself that artistic, but it was an interesting way of learning the info,” she said. “It all came pretty easy when you work with your hands.”

Other panels depicted on Kuczkowski’s quilt included a tribute to the Trail of Tears and the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

With a needle in hand and a vague knowledge of sewing, Heiner, Kuczkowski and their classmates tediously stitched together their quilt tops, battings and backings into the finished quilts.

Passing a piece of yarn through the layers, Heiner doubted whether the quilt would provide much comfort on cold Colorado nights, but she praised everyone’s effort.

“At least it looks really pretty,” she said.

– To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com


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