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Indepth Arts News:

"Mary Fisher: Abataka"
2003-10-30 until 2003-11-02
International Quilt Festival - Geo. R. Brown Convetion Center
Houston, TX, USA United States of America

Mary Fisher, internationally recognized AIDS activist, author and artist, is displaying her acclaimed quilt exhibit, Abataka, at the 29th Annual International Quilt FestivalIN Houston, Texas. “Weaving was my first artistic passion,” Fisher said late last week. By the 1980s her art had progressed into handmade papers and sculptures, with pieces of work moving into notable art collections, both corporate and personal, throughout the United States. She added photography in the 1990s. In recent years she has worked extensively in mixed media, combining her gifts for weaving, sculpting, photography and design. “Quilts were a natural extension,” she noted, “especially because quilts have for so many centuries been a means by which people, mostly women, communicated their lives and messages to others.”

Abataka is a collection of twenty-three quilts sewn by Fisher after a visit to the African nation of Ruwanda where she witnessed “suffering added to suffering, death heaped atop death.”  Abtataka is a pan-African term for family, tribe, or community, a welcome to those who’ve been unwelcome in every land. Fisher’s quilts on display will include I’ll Not Go Quietly, What About the Children?, Orphans Raising Orphans, The Face that Haunts, Are You Human?, We are One, and others.

“This exhibit literally reflects my soul’s attempt to blend what I say in public with what I experience as a pilgrim on the road to AIDS,” Fisher said recently.

Festival organizers are preparing for tens of thousands of quilt aficionados to converge on Houston. Last year’s festival drew nearly 54,000 attendees, making the event the area’s largest convention.

In addition to works by Fisher, the International Quilt Festival will feature demonstrations and special exhibits displaying more than 1600 works of art, including finalists from the International Quilt Association’s annual judged show, traditional Baltimore album quilts, journal quilts, more than 200 original cloth dolls, an exhibit of underground railroad quilts from African-American churches in Texas and traditional quilts from Guatemala, India and Pakistan.

Mary Fisher may still be best remembered for her ground-breaking speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, also held in Houston, where she stunned millions around the world and brought the convention floor to silence and tears as she shared the story of her fight against AIDS. She previously worked in the White House as Assistant to the President of the United States, the Honorable Gerald R. Ford and, before that, with ABC Television. She currently resides in southern Florida.

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