Carolyn Mazloomi

Carolyn Mazloomi is among the most influential African American quilt historians and folklorists of the twenty-first century. In her formative years, Mazloomi held a fascination with airplanes and she later earned a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. The combination of geometric precision and artistic expression attracted the engineer’s interest and quilting became the primary outlet for her creative genius. Her desire to tell the African American experience in cloth fueled her exploration in appliqué and narrative quilts. Consistent with the African American folklore tradition of storytelling, Mazloomi is a “fabric griot.” Widely exhibited in the United States and internationally, Mazloomi’s artwork can be found in the Smithsonian Institution's American Museum of Art and Anacostia Museum, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, the American Museum of Art and Design, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum. In 1985 Mazloomi founded the Women of Color Quilters Network (which includes men), to promote inclusiveness in African American quilt making. As a veteran 1960’s political activist, Mazloomi believes art should make people think about such historical and social conditions as slavery, and the treatment of dispossessed peoples throughout the world. She considers quilts “visual soul food” and a spiritual experience for the viewer. In addition to her artistic contributions to African American folk art, Mazloomi organizes African American quilters through a national outreach program to educate them about the cultural significance and monetary value of their artistic contributions, and to acknowledge their role as primary transmitters of cultural, political, social, and spiritual values.