The Piecemakers, quilting for a cause

At the Akwesasne Freedom School Quilt Auction

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Piecemakers quilt group. The group was formed in 1997 to help support the Akwesasne Freedom School located on the St. Regis Mohawk Reserve in Rooseveltown, New York. The Piecemakers quilt group is based out of New Paltz, New York, but has members from all around the world!

The Akwesasne Freedom School is a Mohawk language immersion school that also fosters an appreciation and understanding of Mohawk cultural traditions. The school is a privately funded alternative school that relies on tuition, grants, donations and fundraisers for support. During the summer, the school has a two-day fundraiser, which includes a silent auction of Mohawk arts and crafts and a one-day quilt auction.

The first efforts to help support the school were led by Christine Krug who contacted Kay Olan, both local residents of New Paltz at the time. Kay’s mother grew up at Akwasasne and has many relatives living there today. They hoped to get the New Paltz community involved in some way that could help support the school. Christine began an annual yard sale, which eventually evolved into the quilt project.

At the Akwesasne Freedom School Quilt Auction

The first quilt was raffled off locally and the proceeds were sent to the Freedom School. The following year each participant made a quilt square symbolic of a different indigenous nation and the quilt was presented to the school. The quilt entitled, Symbols of Indigenous People, displayed a centerpiece, created by Kay, displaying an Iroquois [Haudenosaunee] wampum belt. The belt contains symbols of each nation that is part of the Iroquois Confederacy; the Mohawk being one. Between the years 2002-2005, the Piecemakers also donated quilts to the Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community, all of which can be seen in the photographs below.

Creating the quilts has become a local tradition. Each block is designed, hand-appliquéd and hand quilted by a Piecemaker to fit within the chosen theme of that year. Throughout the year, quilters come and quilters go, some know how to sew and some don’t, some live far away and some live close. The Piecemakers group do not discourage anyone from participating in their cause. There are still six core members who have been quilting for the group since its inception! There have also been a handful of men in the group, including Josh Frischler and a concert pianist, Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo, Barack Obama’s half brother who constructed blocks on the groups first and second quilt (1998 and 1999). The Piecemakers youngest quilter was 12 years old, while the oldest is in her 80s. Each one of the Piecemakers has created beautiful pieces of art that help support a great cause and will be cherished for years to come.

At the Akwesasne Freedom School Quilt Auction

 

Bees_RZ

Ode To The Bees, 2013

Ode To The Bees quilters: Ashley Biagini, Lois Brennan, Lorrie Coffey, Beverly Cook, Cindy Dates, Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, , Shelley J. Greener, Emily Healy, Susan Holland, Matoaka Little Eagle, Evy Morales, Kay Olan ~ Ionataiewas, Marie Reed, Joyce Schiff, Susan Stessin-Cohn, Annette Stewart, Norma Strothenke, and Dolly Wodin.

Abodes From Around the World, 2012

Abodes From Around the World, 2012

Abodes From Around the World quilters: Carolyn Bennett, Lois Brennan, Lorrie Coffey, Beverly Cook, Cindy Dates, Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Sue Holland, Ashley Hurlburt, Olga Kanashiro, Christine Kurzius Krug, Beverly Lavergneau, Matoaka Little Eagle, Kay Olan ~ Ionataiewas, Joyce Schiff, Susan Stessin-Cohn, Annette Stewart, Norma Strothenke and Dolly Wodin.

And That’s How That Story Goes, 2011

And That’s How That Story Goes quilters: Karen Abrahamsen, Lorrie Coffey, Beverly Cook, Cindy Dates, Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Isabel Gutierrez, Susan Holland, Ashley Hurlburt, Hopi James, Olga Kanashiro, Christine Krug, Bev Lavergneau, Evy Morales, Kay Olan, Joyce Schiff, Susan Stessin, Annette Stewart, Norma Strothenke, Henrietta Wise and Dolly Wodin.

Gifts and Blessings 2010

Gifts and Blessings, 2010

Gifts and Blessings quilters: Karen Abrahamsen, Lorrie Coffey, Beverly Cook, Cindy Dates, Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Susan Holland, Ashley Hurlburt, Olga Kanashiro, Christine Krug, Bev Lavergneau, Evy Morales, Kay Olan, Annette Stewart, Norma Strothenke, Henrietta Wise, Dolly Wodin.

The Water of Life, 2009

Thank You to the Waters

We turn our attention to the waters, from the smallest stream to the largest ocean, for water is life. The waters provide a home for the fish and many animals.

The waters provide a thirst-quenching drink to the animals, to the plants and to the human beings so that they can live and grow.

A large percentage of our bodies is made up of water and so we are surrounded by water both inside and out.

Mother Earth is covered with land and water, but mostly water. Every drop of water is beautiful and is precious.  We cannot exist without the waters.

We were given the waters to use as needed, but we were also given the responsibility to protect the waters so that the balance in the Natural World can continue and so that the future generations will not suffer from thirst.

And so, we send our greetings, our thanks and our love to all of the waters of the world.

And now our minds are as one.

Retold from the Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen

(The Words That Come Before All Else) of the Haudenosaunee. By Kay Olan (Ionataie:was)

The Water of Life quilters: Karen Abrahamsen, Lorrie Coffey, Beverly Cook, Cindy Dates,  Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Susan Holland, Ashley Hurlburt, Olga Kanashiro, Christine Kurzius Krug, Beverly Lavergneau, Evy Morales, Kay Olan, Rose Rudnitski,  Annette Stewart, Susan Stessin-Cohn, Norma Strothenke, Henny Wise, and Dolly Wodin.

Sun Sisters, Marie Girard, 2008

This One’s For the Birds, 2007

This One’s For the Birds quilters: Karen Abrahamsen, Lisa Belsky, Doris Bogardus, Lorrie Coffey, Beverly Cook, Cindy Dates, Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Susan Holland, Olga Kanashiro, LouAnne Kirkwood, Christine Krug, Bev Lavergneau, Jody Meillenthin, Kay Olan, Lorry Sears, Susan Stessin, Jan Van de Bogart, Henrietta Wise and Dolly Wodin.

Natures Bounty, 2006

Natures Bounty quilters: Karen Abrahamsen, Doris Bogardus, Cathy Anderson, Lorrie Coffey, Cindy Dates, Ginny Fronheiser, Susan Holland, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Olga Kanashiro, LouAnne Kirkwood, Christine Krug, Bev Lavergneau, Scheherazade Makki, Jody Miller, Evy Morales, Kay Olan, Lorry Sears, Susan Stessin, Jane Van de Bogart, Henrietta Wise, Dolly Wodin and Sheila Yoshpe.

Celebrations, 2005, Akwesasne

Celebrations quilters: Karen Abrahamsen, Lorrie Coffey, Cindy Dates, Cindy Dill, Ginny Fronieser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Susan Holland, Olga Kanashiro, LouAnne Kirkwood, Christine Krug, Bev Lavergneau, Scheherazade Makki, Evy Morales, Kay Olan, Lorry Sears, Susan Stessin, Henrietta Wise, Dolly Wodin, and Sheila Yoshpe.

Celebrations, 2005, Kanatsiohareke

All Creatures Great and Small, 2004, Akwesasne

All Creatures Great and Small quilters: Karen Abrahamson, Cathy Anderson, Donna Coane, Lorrie Coffey, Beverly Cook, Cindy Dates, Cindy Dill, Josh Frischler, Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Susan Holland, Olga Kanashiro, LouAnne Kirkwood, Christine Krug, Juli LaMoy, Bev Lavergneau, Scheherazade Makki, Evy Morales, Kay Olan, Lorry Sears, Susan Stessin-Cohn, Henrietta Wise, and Sheila Yoshpe.

All Creatures Great and Small, 2004, Kanatsiohereke

To Everything There is a Season, 2003, Akwesasne

To Everything There is a Season quilters: Karen Abrahamson, Cathy Anderson, Donna Coane, Lorrie Coffey, Aliyah Cohn, Beverly Cook, Cindy Dates, Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Susan Holland, Olga Kanashiro, LouAnne Kirkwood, Christine Krug, Juli LaMoy, Bev Lavergneau, Scheherazade Makki, Evy Morales, Kay Olan, Lorry Sears, Susan Stessin, Emily Tarbell, Christine Tierney, Henrietta Wise and Sheila Yoshpe.

To Everything There is a Season, 2003, Kanatsiohereke

Peaceful Visions, 2002

Peaceful Visions, 2002

Peaceful Visions quilters: Karen Abrahamson, Cathy Anderson, Elaine Blythe, Maggie Caccamo, Donna Coane, Lorrie Coffey, Jane Coffey, Cindy Dill, Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Linda Houlihan, Olga Kanashiro, LouAnne Kirkwood, Christine Krug, Juli LaMoy, Bev Lavergneau, Mary Ann Lis-Simmons, Holly Read, Lorry Sears, Susan Stessin, Henrietta Wise, and Sheila Yoshpe.

Peaceful Visions, 2002, Kanatsiohereke

The Garden Quilt, 2001

The Garden Quilt quilters:  Karen Abrahamson, Cathy Anderson, Tanya Atkins, Maggie Caccamo, Lorrie Coffey, Suzanne DeSimone, Cindy Dill, Ginny Fronheiser, Marie Girard, Shelley Greener, Susan Holland, Olga Kanoshiro, LouAnne Kirkwood, Christine Krug, Bev Lavergneau, Scheherazade Makki, Elaine Merritt, Mina Metreaud, Lupe Miller, Evy Morales, Kay Olan, Elisa Pritzker, Holly Read, Janet Ruhe, Lorry Sears, Susan Stessin, Christine Tierney, Sandy Verzi, Henny Wise, and Shela Yoshpe.

Special thank you to: Shelley Greener, Brian Kurzius, Armando Lavergneau, Elisa Pritzker, Danny Rutar, and The Quilt Basket Quilt Shop.

Stories and Legends, 2000

Thanksgiving, 1999

Symbols of Indigenous Peoples, 1998

Are you involved in a group that helps support a cause? Or are you starting one? Would you like more information about the Piecemakers Quilt group? We would love to hear for you, send us an e-mail at farmhousemag(at)gmail(dot)com or comment below.

Special thank you to: Susan Stessin-Cohn and Marie Girard, for their contributions to this post!

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Comments
4 Responses to “The Piecemakers, quilting for a cause”
  1. The quilts are just magnificent! Thank you for calling our attention to the Freedom School and this wonderful group of people.

  2. vintagejenta says:

    Love it! Beautiful quilts, beautiful cause.

  3. Matoaka Little Eagle says:

    The people who give of their time and talents to create these beautiful art quilts are very welcoming and helpful to newcomers to the group. I recently joined in this year’s efforts to create a quilt for the School. I had no idea of how complex this process could be, but was totally surprised and grateful for the guidance and spirit of the Piecemakers. The members of the Piecemakers were very patient and willing to give their expertise to me, so that my best efforts would shine through my quilt block.

    I love that I am working to create a gift that is about continuity of the Mohawk people and their language. I am also about continuity. I am Tewa, Apache, and Chickahominy. As I was working on my block (Cliff Dwellings and Adobe Pueblo abodes), I had so many wonderful thoughts and feelings about my own relations in New Mexico and other family and friends. I felt connected. I felt the presence of my mother and my father, whose spirits are so strong within me. I wrapped myself with their love and good thoughts and poured that into my work. I want to pass that on to whoever winds up buying this blanket.

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