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Black History Month: Quilts inspired by Black culture

Meet a local quilter that is creating beautiful quilts, highlighting figures important in African American culture.
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 8:00 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2022 at 5:14 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - There are books and movies documenting the lives of so many famous and influential African American figures. But there’s one woman -- turning their stories into quilts. These quilts are sparking conversations and dialogue about their impacts.

Tiavalya Befecadu is the artist behind these quilts. She works for about two months to create a quilt.

“I try to be pretty organized. But I push myself. Sometimes I quilt day and night to get one done if I’m working under a deadline. I stay really focused but it brings me so much joy,” said Befacadu.

She learned to quilt a few years ago after she and her mother took a quilting class. But she says she really honed her talents during the pandemic. “I had so much free time! I even invested in a bigger and better sewing machine to help with production,” said Befacadu.

Her talents and quilts are on display now at Huntsville Hospital during Black History Month. This is featured as part of the hospital’s ‘Arts in Medicine Program.’

“I’ve got ten quilts on display. I’ve gotten messages from friends that are nurses telling me they loved the quilts in the hallways,” said Befacadu. “Healthcare workers work so hard and they have the hardest jobs. I feel so blessed and so grateful to have my quilts on display there.”

The inspiration for each quilt comes from all over she says. “I find inspiration from books and popular culture. I don’t want their stories to be forgotten. I feel if I put art out there it will spark conversations and people will look into who that person is and learn more about their stories.”

Some of her favorite quilts depict images of American politician Stacy Abrams, Poet Amanda Gorman, and Henrietta Lacks.

“Henrietta Lacks was a huge figure in medicine. I read a book about her and learned her cells regenerated quickly. She died of cervical cancer. But her cancer cells helped develop the polio vaccine and COVID vaccine. So I thought since she was such an important figure in medicine it was only fitting for that quilt to be on display at Huntsville Hospital.”

She handpicks each piece of fabric. The quilt she made of Henrietta Lacks includes fabric cut from her grandmother’s clothing. “Henrietta Lacks quilt includes a polyester suit belonging to my grandmother. I love picking that fabric and something like that you can’t find anymore. I love quilting. It’s a tradition and I enjoy keeping their memories alive. That’s what I love to do.

Her beautiful quilts are for sale. You can learn more about Tiavalya Befecadu and her quilts by visiting her website: https://www.tiavalya.com/

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