Sewing stories: Harriet Power's journey from slave to artist

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By Barbara Herkert

Harriet Powers learned to sew and quilt as a young slave girl on a Georgia plantation. She lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and eventually owned a cotton farm with her family, all the while relying on her skills with the needle to clothe and feed her children.

Later she began making pictorial quilts, using each square to illustrate Bible stories and local legends. She exhibited her quilts at local cotton fairs, and though she never travelled outside of Georgia, her quilts are now priceless examples of African-American folk art.