Colleton quilter's work on display in gallery; will go on tour



Original quilts by a Colleton County woman are on display in a Charleston gallery, with the city’s mayor remarking on the significance of the textile artwork of Lillie Singleton, artist behind the new showcase.

“Griots of Cotton, Indigo and Clay” is a textile arts exhibit on display now through February 28 at the City Gallery, located at 34 Prioleau Street in Charleston. 

Singleton, who is a resident of Colleton County, has a quilt displayed at the gallery. The display was scheduled only for the month of January, but Charleston’s mayor was so impressed with the quilts that he asked for it to be extended through February.

Her artwork will soon be on display nationwide.

The exhibition is presented by Acres of Ancestry Initiative, a non-profit group that is working towards promoting black cultural traditions and textile arts, as well as regenerate landownership, ecological stewardship, and food and fiber economies in the South.

Acres of Ancestry commissioned Singleton to create four pieces that will go on tour throughout the nation.

One was “Pick a Bale of Cotton” which shows slaves picking cotton in a field; each small picture on the quilt is sewn and pieced together. Another was “Dinnertime” which features a Black family at the dinner table.

The writing on the quilt is written in the Gullah dialect.

A piece she just finished was a black farm, complete with farm animals. She is working on her fourth and final piece for the tour.

Singleton has been quilting for years and has become accomplished in the art. She has also created a portrait quilt of Dr. Martin Luther King that was displayed at the Colleton Museum in Walterboro.

“I am so excited about this, and to see my work at the gallery,” said Singleton. “There are some amazingly talented people who have created quilts that you have to see to believe.

“The colors and quilted pictures that have been pieced together are wonderful.”

While Singleton is thrilled to have her work on display in Charleston as part of Black History week, she is also happy to have been chosen to be included in a book written by Tracy Lloyd McCurty of Acres of Ancestry. The book is due to be published in November. It is about black artists who work with textile arts.

Singleton said she feels that she is telling story with her quilts and giving insight into rural black history.

The roots of her ancestors and African culture are depicted in every quilt she creates.

She and her quilting friends, “The Gathering of Bees,” contribute to social service projects like an Angel Tree for needy Colleton County children and Quilts of Valor, which distributes quilts to disabled service people. They’ve also made dresses for children in foreign countries as part of a shoebox minis-try; created small quilts and tiny dresses for hospitals to give to premature babies; and participated in Betty’s Children, a project that provides quilts to children in DSS care.