International Quilt Museum


Date of this Version



Presented at the 4th Biennial Symposium of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum: The Global Quilt: Cultural Contexts, Lincoln, Nebraska, April 2-4, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Emer Fahy.


This paper arises from the research work of my M.A. in Women’s Studies at UCC in 2005, which addresses the motivations for women’s involvement in quilting. This work is supported by a scholarship from the Irish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. In this paper I will focus on the importance of disidentification for women accessing quilting as a form of artistic self-expression.

My research shows that for many women, it is the cultural invisibility of quilts and quilting, supported by the myths of frugality and functionality surrounding them, that enables women to comfortably access this medium of self-expression and to create communities that bring them support in their lives. Understanding this need to mask a creative activity and reluctance to declare a need for creative expression or an artistic outlet, becomes very important in designing and presenting programs that women are prepared to access.