Stand Up, Speak Out

Stand Up, Speak Out was created for the exhibit Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes, Women’s Rights which is on display at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas from September 2022 to April 2023. This quilt honors sisters Angelina and Sarah Grimke who were active members of the abolition movement and became some of the first women to write and speak publicly in support of women’s rights. 

Artists’s Statement: Sarah Grimke’s words adorn antique shoofly blocks and echo the courage of her sister, Angelina, the first woman to address a state legislature. I chose this traditional design to capture the domestic ideal contracting women and show how the sisters, emboldened by faith, spoke out against slavery and for women’s equality. 

Art Quilt by Allison Wilbur using antique quilt blocks and hand embroidery. Quilt is titled Stand Up Speak Out and is part of the exhibit Women's Voices, Women's Votes Women's Rights.
Sewing Sister is an art quilt by Allison Wilbur created for the Solar Sister exhibit under the auspices of Quilt for Change. It depicts an African woman sitting in fromt of her sewing machine with a solar light shining on her work.
Sewing Sister by Allison Wilbur 2013 (72 x 72)

Sewing Sister

72 x 72
Sewing Sister was created for the Solar Sister exhibit under the auspices of Quilt for Change. When I first met Katherine Lucey, Executive Director of Solar Sister, she told me the story of Teddy the Tailor. Before she purchased a solar light, Teddy Namirembe would walk to the nearby village in Uganda to work at night, leaving her three daughters at home. The simple purchase of a solar light brought so many positive changes to her life and her business – she has extra time to work since she does not have to walk to the village and back and so her income has increased 30 percent. She is safer for not having to make the walk and her children are not alone at home. Her children also share in the use of the light to do their homework. She is not paying for renting a work space or for expensive kerosene and they no longer breathe in the kereosene smoke. Like most women, Teddy turns the extra money she makes (she sews school uniforms) back into her family and her business. As the owner of a small quilting business, I can relate to Teddy. I choose to work at home so I can be available to help my children with their homework and take care of my parents. The hours I have to work after dark, after the work of caring for my family is done, are vitally important to my business. Solar Sister is not only important to the entrepreneurs who sell the lights, but to many others who buy the solar lights and phone chargers as a part of their small business.


Entry in the Quilt for Change quilt challenge exhibit “Women, Peace and Security” organized in conjunction with UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund). Displayed at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in March 2011 and at the UN in New York in March 2012, the Houston International Quilt Festival in November 2012 and with Mancuso Quilt Festivals in 2013.


Artist’s statement:

At refugee camps like Iridimi in Western Chad, women who have been driven from their homes and villages by conflict leave the camps to seek firewood for their families. As they venture farther and farther from the camp they become vulnerable to attack. This quilt shows a faceless woman symbolizing the universality of her plight yet the faces of her attackers hiding in the brush are not blank. The men’s faces are not blank because those committing these crimes against women must not remain faceless. They must be held accountable for their crimes.

Real peace and security are only possible when women are involved in the peace process, bringing their experiences and needs to the table. Women need to be involved in local and national governments to help conflict from breaking out and to be involved in the peacekeeping process to be certain they are protected and their needs are considered. One woman alone is vulnerable, when many women band together, their voices can be heard.

Isolation by Allison Wilbur. This art quilt depicts an African woman carrying a bundle of sticks on her head walking alongside a field. In the field you can see the outlines of men carrying guns.
Isolation by Allison Wilbur 2011 (18 x 30)
Gifts A mother Passes on to her Child by Allison Wilbur, an art quilt depicting an African woman holding her child with words of support and love written in the background.
Gifts A Mother Passes on to Her Child by Allison Wilbur 2009 29x 36

Gifts a Mother Passes on to her Child

Created for the first Quilt for Change exhibit, “Making a Healthier World for our Children” which debuted at the Palais des Nations at the United Nations in Geneva Switzerland in 2009. The exhibit went on to travel with the Mancuso Quilt Festivals, stopping in seven cities as well as at the Machine Quilters Expo in Manchester New Hampshire.

At the time I curated this exhibit, I was working at the Global Fund to Fight Aids Tuberculosis and Malaria. My husband, Dick Wilbur, was working at the U. S. Mission to the United Nations. 

Artist’s Statement:  While the debate rages in the US, about health care reform, there are too many people in the world with no health care at all. I would like to see our tax dollars used to promote the spread of health care around the world. In much of the world great progress needs to be made to provide universal prenatal care including all the testing and treatment needed to prevent the transmission of HIV/ AILS from parent to child and medical treatment for mothers infected with AIDS. The Global Fund is funding programs worldwide that empower countries to make real strides in fichting AlDS transmission

As a mother of three, I would like to see a world where all mothers are given the proper tools to raise healthy children and therefore are able to focus on the intangible gifts they pass on to their children. The mother-child image from Chad was inspired by a photo taken by Giacomo Pirozzi. The writing in the background of the quilt lists qualities mothers pass on to their children – unconditional love, belief that you can change the world, curiosity, inner strength. Given a peaceful world and good medical care, these children will grow to be our next generation of leaders in the world.

Art quilt by Allison Wilbur depicting mountains, cloud filled sky, and small figures walking on path through mountains.
Yazhidis by Allison Wilbur 2012 (38 x 28) (Private Collection)


A PBS documentary on the Yazhidi people, an ethnic minority living in Iraq, long subjected to persecution including sexual slavery of women. The story of the persecution and flight of the Yazhidis was told in the film, which concluded with a dramtic scene depicting a trail of Yazhidis who hiked for three days to escape the country. Too often we take for granted the protection of our human rights and the security of our lives. I created this quilt to raise awareness of what was happening and am happy to say it is now in the collection of an American woman who works with refugees.