Radka Donnell – Quilter pioneer

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Radka Donnell, (November 24, 1928 Sofia, Bulgaria – February 13, 2013 Zurich, Switzerland) was a feminist, painter, art therapist, poet, and pioneer of modern quilt-making. She explored what quilts can mean and look like, as distinct from traditional quilting and the fine arts culture.

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“More than 30 years ago, in Lawrence, Kansas, making quilts became an issue of liberation for me. Thinking and talking about quilts, learning about their special nature as everyday objects in our lives and as women’s art, have ever since, been a context for my search for the neglected part of myself and for a better human climate altogether. In my work in cloth,

I not only work out my longing for a more perfect contact and union with other persons, but also strive to express universal human fears of oppression and death. Making quilts has become for me a struggle to secure a social space which is inviolable, fecund and hospitable to a sense of self and of the human community nourished by the spirit of the Goddess, a new consciousness protective of what is left of nature on this planet. “

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Radka Donnell has remained active both as an artist and a teacher. She has produced nearly five hundred quilts over the past thirty years, authored a book, and taught a course on the history, theory and techniques of quilting. She writes, “I stepped out of the ‘art scene’ when I began doing my quilts. I have stayed with quiltmaking because it helped me to find wholeness and be open to enjoy, advise, and validate the creativity of other women. I believe we aBarn triore all equally creative, and my happiest moment regarding art was when one of my students said about my course, ‘It helped me realize that I am more creative than I thought before.’ This is my objective, and if it does not make me an ‘artist,’ that’s OK with me.”

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