Sunday, July 19, 2009

Review of Kyra Hicks new book "This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilts and Other Pieces"

KyraHicksPowers This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilt and Other Pieces is the new book by Kyra E. Hicks. In it we learn facts never revealed about Harriet Powers, the former slave, born in 1837, who became the recognized quilt maker known today for her primitive style appliqué quilts depicting tales from the Bible and American history.

Kyra’s intimate style of revealing her research findings, step by step, feels like a Nancy Drew mystery unfolding before me. It is a page turner. “This I Accomplish” is intended for adults, but certainly would be enjoyed by younger history buffs too.

What little has been known, until now, of Harriet Power’s life has been documented in several publications and exhibits. Her workmanship displayed in her quilts have always been heralded as joyous, remarkable for their colorfulness and creativity. Yet, often Harriet’s illiteracy was used to justify or explain the primitive quality of her symbolism of Bible stories in appliqué figures and shapes. As Kyra’s research findings prove, Harriet was reading the Bible herself from a young age.

Mary Lyons, author of “Stitching Stars, the Story of Quilts of Harriet Powers,” shows a corollary between her animal shapes and those of appliqué cloth-workers in Abomey, Dahomey, (now Benin) in West Africa.

The intimate quality of this delightful book about a wonderful African-American 19th century woman is Kyra’s passion and joy exclaimed at each successful juncture in her discovery process. Reading her portrayal of the process of researching quilt history is like watching a reality show. Her highs, lows, questions, assumptions, hopes, surprises, searching and deciphering are all included in this informal yet packed with details book. The genealogy of all persons involved, a little to allot, is a large part of the book. The impact covers a broad range of people in America’s history.

Kyra establishes beyond a doubt that Harriet made more than two quilts. She delves deep into the history of the Pictorial quilt, which features blocks depicting both Bible stories and weather events in America’s past. Kyra’s deep respect and admiration for Harriet is easily sensed throughout the book, making Harriet became a real person and furthering my appreciation of her life.  (Read more here)

This I Accomplish is available on now. It is a book of high value for  many genres of people, not only quilters and quilt history students, but women's history, genealogists, those people wanted to see research in process, and American history enthusiasts.

Kyra Hicks, with her book, will be my guest interview in October on Women On Quilts. The lines will be open for Q & A.


Mary Emma Allen said...

This sounds like a fabulous book, Krya. Thanks for letting us know about it, Kimberly.

Villager said...

What a cool book review. I'm not a quilter ... but I love my sister, Kyra, and I'm glad that her book rec'd a positive review from you/your blog!

I look forward to the interview in October.

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