May 1, 2001
For Immediate Release
Betsy Manderen, FAVA, 440-774-7158 or e-mail
Pat Murphy, Oberlin Heritage Center/O.H.I.O., 440-774-1700 or e-mail

Threads of Freedom: The Underground Railroad Story in Quilts: Exhibition and Symposium

Gallery: Firelands Association for the Visual Arts/FAVA
Address: New Union Center for the Arts
39 South Main Street, Oberlin, Oh 44074
Telephone: 440-774-7158

Dates: May 13 to August 26, 2001

Admission: Free

Hours: Tuesday through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. & Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Closed July 4

Enjoy a unique exhibition of quilts gathered from throughout Ohio, the United States, and Canada that tell the story of the Underground Railroad. Learn more about Oberlin’s nationally significant role in the history of the Underground Railroad and the Abolition movement. The quilts date from the early 1840s to the present, and include story quilts, family quilts, map quilts, signature and album quilts. Works of noted contemporary quilt makers such as Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi and Myrah Brown Green are featured as well as a quilt made by Oberlin Senior citizens, many of whom descended from the community's first African American and Abolitionist residents, as well as works by school children from Oberlin, Ohio and Amherstburg, Ontario.

The exhibit and symposium are co-sponsored by the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA) and the Oberlin Heritage Center/Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization (O.H.I.O.) with the support of the Ohio Humanities Council (a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities) and the Richard R. Hallock Foundation. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, May 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. For further information about the exhibition, please call FAVA at 774-2166 or e-mail

A public symposium will be held on June 23 at the Oberlin Community Services Building. Scholars for symposium include Dr. Carol Lasser of the Oberlin College History Department whose publications include Friends and Sisters: Letters Between Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1846-1893, editor [with Marlene Merrill] and author of introductory essays (University of Illinois Press, 1987); Sharon Irving, a scholar from Toronto whose recent master’s thesis was on "African-Canadian Quilts of Southern Ontario, 1840-1920"; Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, quilter and founder of the Women of Color Quilters Network in 1984 and author of Spirits of the Cloth and subject of the award-winning PBS documentary Uncommon Beauty; Cathy D. Nelson, the President of the Friends of Freedom Society/Ohio Underground Railroad Association and Ohio Humanities Council Speakers Bureau scholar, Karen Schaefer, an award-winning reporter and producer for WCPN, Cleveland Public Radio, who has written extensively on Oberlin’s Place in Underground Railroad history, and the connections between Oberlin and the Canadian terminus of the Underground Railroad centered in Chatham, Ontario, and moderator Dr. Sharon F. Patton, the director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, former director of the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, and author of African American Art (Oxford University Press, 1998) and Memory and Metaphor, the Art of Romare Bearden (Oxford University Press, 1991). Following is the agenda (subject to change):

10:00 a.m. Welcome and Acknowledgements —

Betsy Manderen/FAVA and Patricia Murphy/O.H.I.O.

10:10 a.m. Introductory Remarks -- Dr. Sharon Patton, Moderator

10:25 a.m. Karen Schaefer

"Oberlin’s Canada Connection: Covering The Underground Railroad"

11:00 a.m. Cathy Nelson

"Ohio and the Underground Railroad"

12 noon — 1:30 Lunch on your own (list of dining options available).

FAVA Gallery and Oberlin Heritage Center open for visits on your own.

1:30 p.m. Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi,

"Underground Railroad Quilts: The Artist’s Perspective"

2:30 p.m. Dr. Carol Lasser

"Oberlin’s Role in the Underground Railroad: Public History and Collective Memory"

3:30 p.m. Sharon Irving

"Stitching Freedom: African-Canadian Quilts"

4:30 p.m. Wrap-up with Dr. Sharon F. Patton

5-6:30 Gallery Talk with Ricky Clark and Reception at FAVA, New Union Center for the Arts

The event will be free and open to the public. Advance reservations are necessary due to limited seating (100 capacity); for further information about the symposium or to request a reservation form, call O.H.I.O. at 440-774-1700 (or e-mail to