Lightning Talk at Brooklyn College

This morning, at the Brooklyn College 2013 Core Conference, I am presenting the Runaway Quilt Project as an example of work in the Digital Humanities field. During my presentation I will discuss:

Why I picked this topic:

  • I wanted to explore big data sets in order to make myself more informed about  quilting during the era of slavery.

Why I began this research blog:

  • I needed a place to display the dynamic content developed for Digital Humanities class assignments during Spring 2012: digital annotation, maps, and ngrams.

Where my interests developed:

  • Gracie Mitchell, a former slave interviewed by the WPA, showed her interviewer 30 quilts with 22 different designs, and her interviewer listed them in the interview notes. She reminded me of my grandmother.

How I archived my research work:

  • I created an archival quilt: printed datasets on to fabric at home, made the 22 blocks sized according to a frequency analysis, and bordered the quilt with source code, including a QR code linking back to the research blog and a suggested citation.

Why I continued the research blog:

  • As we learned more tools in later courses, I stuck to the same topic and placed my finished products online: library guide.
  • Taking Information Visualization the following spring, I decided to create more purposefully designed infographics (with an eye towards making another quilt): heat map, timeline, network, small maps.

How I archived my information visualizations and made a 2nd archival quilt:

  • I created the charts, had a friend help me lay them out in InDesign, and printed a whole cloth design on to fabric on the Pratt Brooklyn campus, like a poster. 
  • Another friend designed original patterns based on the project, and we created a whole cloth design with the 22 blocks for the reverse side, also printed on to fabric.

The second quilt was recently accepted in to the International Quilt Festival for an exhibit titled, “In the American Tradition”, so this summer I will be working on this website/blog to make it more user friendly and shipping/preparing the quilt so that it can travel for a year.




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *