The Powerful Quilting of Susan Hudson

One of the makers we interviewed at QuiltCon 2022 was Susan Hudson, a member of the Navajo Nation. Her quilt,Missing and Murdered Indigenous Children: Robbed of Innocence, was an impactful and emotional piece hanging at the show. 

The Powerful Quilting of Susan Hudson

Hudson shared with us some of the meaning behind her quilt,Missing and Murdered Indigenous Children, and the intense and fascinating process that inspires the ideas for her quilts and how she is guided in putting them together.

Trees have knowledge, said Hudson, and they know our story and history. She says tree roots dig deep into the earth and know the secrets held there. The roots know of the murders of all of the indigenous little girls and boys and are there when a child has taken their last breath.  

In describing the meaning of some of the persons depicted on the quilt, Hudson describes how the roots go all the way down to when the conquistadors were in the land. They did not respect the indigenous peoples or evenview them as human beings. She sees parallels in modern times with the military and police. 

The larger, appliqued outline of a girl represents the little girls and boys from her community that would herd sheep. White men would watch for the young sheep herders, then would rape and kill them or capture and sell them as slaves. 

The Powerful Quilting of Susan Hudson

Hudson says the way she makes the quilt is a process of construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction. The process of making one quilt can take Hudson 18 months. First she has intense dreams. Sometimes they are horrific. She sees pictures in her mind. As her mind sifts through these images, she comes up with the one that is meant to be represented on the quilt. Hudson is then led to obtaining the material she needs for making the quilt. Then she prays. 

To assemble the quilt, Hudson uses tweezers to put the pieces of fabric on the quilt. When she gets frustrated she steps away from the project and then starts praying about it. She often feels led by the people her quilts depict. They guide her to where and how she should put specific pieces on the quilt. Hudson says she is never alone and that her ancestors are always around her. Hudson’s quilts help to tell their stories. 

Hudson has displayed quilts in multiple museums, including the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles and the National Museum of American Indians in Washington, D.C. 

Susan has a lovely spirit and we are incredibly thankful for her willingness to be interviewed by Curated Quilts. Susan Hudson can be found on Instagram at @navajoms.

Don’t miss watching our full interview with Susan Hudson at QuiltCon 2022 on our Instagram feed.

You can purchase your copy of Curated Quilts today.

By Brittany Bowen Burton

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