Jacqueline Bishop Coordinates “By the Work of Her Hands”

Current MFAST student Jacqueline Bishop is the US coordinator and overall coordinator for the international collaborative project, By the Work of Her Hands, which was just awarded the 2014 Museums Connect grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the American Alliance of Museums. Below she explains the premise of the project and how it came to be.

In 2008-2009 I was a Fulbright fellow to Morocco. In Morocco I was introduced to the quite stunning embroidery done in various parts of the country. Prior to going to Morocco, I had quilts that my great grandmother in Jamaica made. I married the Moroccan embroidery with the patchwork quilt making traditions for a series of works that have by now been exhibited in several countries. The idea of marrying Moroccan embroidery with African American quilt traditions stayed with me and so, when the American Embassy in Rabat (Morocco) alerted me to a grant from Museums Connect I jumped at the opportunity to apply for this grant.

The Museums Connect grant puts a group of Americans and a group of individuals in a foreign country in conversation using the vehicle of a Museum. My job was to find and secure an American Museum interested in partnering on the project, which I found in The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. The American Embassy worked in connecting me with the Tangier American Legation Museum in Morocco, who were also interested in partnering on the project.

Next I secured the two groups that I wanted to put in conversation: The Quilters of Color group, based in Brooklyn, New York; and the embroidery makers at the Au Grain de Sesame Collective in Rabat. My idea is to put in conversation college-aged students in both countries (Morocco and the United States) by having these students work on a joint project of collecting oral histories from the women in question, as well as to do documentary photographs and short videos of the women. The students would then work to build an online website of the oral history project.

I wrote the proposal for the grant, which was submitted by the Fabric Workshop and Museum. I am both the US Coordinator and the overall coordinator of the project. Asmaa Benachir is the Moroccan coordinator of the project. In my position as coordinator I will oversee travel to Morocco and the United States by the participants of the project, and oversee an exhibition to be held in both countries. The final grant award was for $93,500, which was close to $10,000 more than we requested. 

– Jacqueline Bishop

Find out more about the project here.

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