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Marion Coleman (Castro Valley) collaborating with Bay Area Black United Fund (Oakland)

Award: $40,000 Traditional Arts grant awarded in 2007

Initial Exhibition: Bay Area Black United Fund’s African American Health Summit in Oakland, California, 2009; later exhibited at the Berkeley YMCA, Alta Bates Hospital, Kaiser Center in Oakland, and the West Contra Costa Health Center

Lead artist Marion Coleman collaborated with artists Dolores Vitero Presley, Julia Vitero (all members of the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland) and the Bay Area Black United Fund to produce Creating Health/Embracing Wellness, 15 quilts addressing various aspects of health and wellness.  During the project the artists participated in the Bay Area Black United Fund’s Critical Mass Health Conductor training, explored their own health issues, and collaborated with health conductor program facilitators and group members.  Each quilt they created expresses themes of health and wellness.

The process provided an avenue for each artist to grow in her own health practices and provided an opportunity for each artist to explore different techniques for creating educational quilts that would appeal to a range of individuals.  They experimented with new materials and, while each artist used some traditional methods for composing her pieces, she set aside at least half of the work for an exploration of a new technique.

Marion Coleman has more than 20 years of experience making quilts and working with fibers and threads.  As with many quilters of her generation, she began making quilts that were utilitarian and expanded her skills to include contemporary story quilts.

The Bay Area Black United Fund was founded in 1979 in Oakland, California. It is dedicated to supporting community-based agencies that assist families, children, youth and seniors; fostering cultural understanding through the arts; supporting the needs of African Americans and other communities of color; promoting community health and wellness; providing services for women in distress; and empowering neighborhoods and community residents.