Carolyn Mazloomi Biography
Carolyn Mazloomi is among the most influential African American quilt historians and quilt artists of the twenty-first century. Widely exhibited in the United States and internationally, her quilts can be found in the Smithsonian American Museum of Art, National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, National Civil Rights Museum, Mint Museum, American Museum of Art and Design, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
In 1985 Mazloomi founded the Women of Color Quilters Network (which includes men), to promote inclusiveness in African American quilt making; to educate members about the cultural significance and monetary value of their artistic contributions; to acknowledge their role as primary transmitters of cultural, political, social, and spiritual values; and to document their contributions to American quilt history.
Dr. Mazloomi has written eight books on African American quilts and is an authority in the field, and is a very sought after exhibit curator. Her first book, Spirits of the Cloth: Contemporary African American Quilts, received “Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year” from the American Library Association. Her most recent book is And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations.
Dr. Mazloomi was awarded the first Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award in 2003. Ohio Heritage Fellows are among the state’s living cultural treasures. Fellows embody the highest level of artistic achievement in their work, and the highest level of service in the teaching and other work they do in their communities to ensure that their artistic traditions stay strong. Mazloomi has been involved in the economic development of women through the arts for over twenty years. Her organization, WCQN, has been recognized by the International Labour Department in Geneva and the United Nations for its developmental programs to help advance women.
In 2014, Dr. Mazloomi was awarded the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, Bess Lomax Hawes National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award. The Bess Lomax Hawes Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.
Mazloomi has spearheaded a veritable quilting exodus from the bed to the wall. More than ever before African American quilt making is recognized as a traditional art form that investigates and preserves the life, the spirit, and the culture of a people. Her gifts to folklore include brilliant artistic works and perhaps more importantly, her tenacity to insure that other African American quilters have the opportunity to impart their knowledge of African and European modern art, popular culture, and history through their quilts.