Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rhonda Edwards

I liked Rhonda the minute she walked into the room. I could feel her energy and intensity. She was my last interview of the day. As with all the women, I asked why she was in prison and was a little worried when she simply stated, "Murder. That's why I'm here. Now can we talk about the quilt." However, once she started talking about her quilt, all my worries went away. The quilt is divided in two. One side show her before she was in prison and the other side is her in prison. She has found religion since being in prison. Although she does share that she always went to church even if she was also carrying a gun. She was open, honest and passionate. I also find it interesting that she too created a two-sided quilt. On the back of hers is a painting she did on canvas.

It is clear from her quilt that Rhonda has a lot of talent. It just saddens me that she was not given the opportunity to use it. Her childhood was not an easy one. I can't imagine being one of 14 kids, living in an efficiency apartment with an aunt with no air conditioning in Columbus, Ohio. Add to all that and being gay.

Rhonda was the only one who asked me questions after the interview. I truly wish we could have had more time together but then that is true of all the women. Rhonda did ask for "honest" feedback about her quilt, how to make the next one better, what I did, why doing the interviews was important to her. She was to be a preacher and I asked her why making quilts could not be a part of her mission. This made her pause and she promised to think about it. Writing this I also realize that I'm still not finished processing all that happened to me in prison or the grieving that I am doing for these women.


  1. Karen, each of these is as stunning as they are heart-breaking.What a work you have done, no doubt you will be forever changed.

  2. I'm just blown away viewing this work. All of the artists areso creative in telling their stories. Karen, this work should be in a travelling exhibit.

  3. Rhonda's painting on her quilt is great. I love the graphic quality, almost graffiti-like images on the front with the more detailed painting of Jesus on the back. The movement is great! Rhonda did a wonderful job.

    With all of these which were in the original show, it was overwhelming to see them at one time. I think I went into overload as I swear I have never seen some of these before, even though I know I did at the Sacred Threads show.

    Thanks for sharing.


  4. I've only looked at two of the interviews so far and I'm impressed with the level of artistry and meaning conveyed by these quilts.

    I agree, this collection should be part of a traveling exhibit. Perhaps the funds raised from such an exhibition could go toward the purchase of quilting books for prison libraries. It would be great for these quilters to get to see art quilts etc.

    Are you able to get the quilters' permission to post their quilts on Flickr? That would give them a lot more exposure -- and comments.

    Thank you for posting your interveiws and photos.


Love comments! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.