April Shipp Lecture – “Griot of Cloth” – July 20, 2019
By Raylene Kruger
Detroit renowned quilter and teacher April Anue Shipp has been quilting for more than 30 years. Her eclectic style incorporates both traditional and modern designs and she believes in staying current with the trends.
Preserving the craft of quilting and the art of storytelling is paramount to Ms. Shipp, who truly is a “Griot of the Cloth.” A griot (PRON: GREE-OH) is a revered storyteller who maintains a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa. April uses her quilt art to share culture and human rights stories. She wants to make sure that people understand and appreciate the culturally rich heritage packed into her quilts.
Her largest quilt, “Strange Fruit: A Century of Lynching and Murder,” was completed in 2003. Three years in the making and dedicated to Ida B. Wells, Billie Holiday and (Laura Nelson a female lynch victim), Strange Fruit made its debut at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, as part of the Without Sanctuary exhibit (July-Feb. 2005). Her quilts have appeared in human rights exhibitions locally and worldwide.
April established her company, “Your Heritage Quilts, L. L. C.” in 2003, specializing in quilts with a spiritual, historical and family significance.
Volunteer participation in DaimlerChrysler World of Works Program enables her to visit different school each week where she poses as an African American woman during the turn of the century 1900. April teaches the art of quilt making at Wayne County Community College School of Continuing Education – Detroit campus. Her Blues Singers’ portrait quilts series, “Ladies Who Sang the Blues” are currently displayed at the WCCC downtown campus.
April’s quilting style will possibly change in the future because she is evolving. She recently started doing figurative sculpture using clay and is working on how to incorporate clay and cloth.
Her July 20 GAAQG Quilt Day Lecture and trunk show will educate and inspire everyone.
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