Marta Means Freedom was commissioned by MARTA to commemorate its 30th anniversary. It was unveiled last night with great fanfare. Congressman John Lewis was among the dignitaries on hand to celebrate the occasion. I was able to speak to the crowd to share my artist’s vision. It was an amazing night for me. My Artist Statement follows.
“This quilt began as a simple request to incorporate some artwork done by local school children into a quilt. The students expressed through their art the answer to the simple question, “Where can MARTA take you?”
From reviewing the art work, the answer seemed to be “Anywhere you want to go.”
As I pondered that question in connection with the celebration of MARTA’s 30th year of service to the citizens of metro Atlanta, I sought to connect the past with the present. The Underground Railroad, which is the ultimate symbol of freedom, seemed a natural starting point since we are celebrating 30 years of MARTA giving to the citizens of metro Atlanta the freedom to travel anywhere they wish.
Children today are indeed lucky that they can go anywhere they want to go, but there are many who came before who did the hard work to make such freedom possible. So the quilt starts in the center with a quote from Harriet Tubman who led many slaves to freedom. Many believe that quilts played a role in the Underground Railroad by providing clues and guidance to escaping slaves and those who helped them. (See Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad by Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard). Quilt blocks known as the Underground Railroad blocks surround the center block. They represent the road to freedom. The outer border of the quilt contains the art work of today’s youth who are free to go anywhere their mind can conceive.
The colors were chosen first and foremost to be in keeping with MARTA’s logo, but the bold vibrant colors are in keeping with the rosy future of our children.”