The non-profit organization, Color of Connection Quilt was founded in the spring of 2020 because—according to its mission statement—founders Porfiria Gomez, Michelle Collins, and Keyana Richardson, “wanted to connect the modern quilting community, across all colors, ages, genders, and backgrounds. These three makers believed that, "where there was more colorful connection, there was more beauty to be celebrated not just in quilts, but also in our communities.”
Though based in Atlanta, Color of Connection is represented where each of its founders resides. Michelle is from Atlanta, Georgia, Porfiria is from Brooklyn, NY, and Keyana is from Columbus, Ohio. As they partner with other organizations, businesses, and venues in their own cities, their non-profit will hold workshops to teach young people how to sew and create their very own Color of Connection Quilt. As stated on their website, “they hope that these workshops will not only foster relationships and meaningful connection, but also teach self-efficacy and creativity.”
Coming from a strong quilting tradition in my own family (See my Seamwork article, My Grandma’s Hands: A Crafting Tradition with Purpose), I was immediately interested in what Color of Connection was all about and was eager to ask its founders a few questions and, hopefully, energize my own personal goal of re-introducing quilting back into my own sewing and crafting practice.
How did the idea for Color of Connection begin between the three of you?
It began when we all noticed a common issue. The common issues are the injustices that people of color are experiencing and the lack of representation of people of color in the modern quilting world.
There has definitely been a lot of conversation around the lack of representation in the sewing and crafting community recently, and so many groups have formed—I can’t help but think of Black Makers Matter, for example.
How did this initial motivation to do something to change the way people of color are seen—or rather, not seen—inspire you all?
We were inspired and motivated to showcase the common connection that we all share—which is quilting. We want to emphasize how the three of us connected through our love of quilting. We also want to be an inspiring factor to others so that they can form a lasting bond with another quilt-loving stranger. The objective is to have quilting be the “icebreaker,” so to speak.
Imagine the entire quilting community telling the stories of their quilts to each other. With everyone sharing, it would indeed be like an extended family.
Why quilting? What is it about this specific sewing and crafting tradition that you think is important?
Quilting connects each of us to our families. We all learned quilting through family and extended family. Quilting involved the telling of stories. Each piece of the quilt had significance to the storyteller. This sometimes spanned generations which made the family bond transcend time. With that said, everyone quilting is like a large extended family. Imagine the entire quilting community telling the stories of their quilts to each other. With everyone sharing, it would indeed be like an extended family. The tradition of quilting plays such a huge role for each of us, and we want to share that.
You design much of your workshops for young people who haven’t been a part of this generational tradition. Do you think that young people can connect to and through this craft without that legacy in their own families?
Absolutely. We recently did our first workshop with some young people—the connection we shared with them was amazing. Keyana said it was “right out of our hearts.” The goal is to create a love around quilting, and we honestly believe we accomplished that. The workshop participants each learned a skill that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.
That’s amazing! It’s so great that you are creating a new generation of quilters and crafters. What has the response to Color of Connection been like since its founding? Was it a larger or smaller response than you expected?
Wow, it has been amazing and bigger than we could have all imagined. We are so humbled by the responses and the amount of interest. To witness so many quilters with the drive to see a change in the modern quilting world and to be a part of the connections being made is far more than we planned.
With so much initial momentum and support from the quilting community, what do you all hope you’ll be able to achieve through Color of Connection? What's the overall goal?
Our overall goal is to see inclusion in the quilting world, more young people from all backgrounds, people from all walks of life, more people of color, diverse social class, and gender. The world is made up of so many different people, and we want to see them all represented. Porfiria always says, “be the change you want to see,” and that is what we want to represent—the change we want to see.
How can the Seamwork community help?
The Seamwork community can help by continuing the campaign of inclusion by showcasing people of color. Color of Connections welcomes assistance the Seamwork community can provide by spreading our message of inclusion. Color of Connection welcomes financial donations, which will be used to fund quilting workshops and help further our mission to include all people from all backgrounds, age groups, socioeconomic class, and gender.