Profile: Peggie Hartwell (1939-)

Peggie Lois Hartwell is a fourth-generation African-American quilter and educator. She currently lives in Summerville, South Carolina, where she is Chairperson of the Summerville Chapter of the Women of Color Quilters Network. Their focus is to teach school-age children the art and tradition of making story-quilts.

Personal life

Peggie Hartwell grew up on a farm with a large, extended family. She was born in 1939 in Springfield, South Carolina. The women were skilled quiltmakers, and the men were accomplished practitioners in the ancient tradition of oral storytelling.

During the 1940s and 1950s, southern African-American farmers moved in large numbers to northern cities. Hartwell completed her education in urban New York City.

Performance work

Hartwell studied with legendary dance master Syvilla Fort of New York City. She then spent nearly eight years performing Jazz, Modern Primitive and Modern dance techniques throughout Europe and the Middle East.

After her performance career ended, she obtained a position at one of the oldest brokerage firms, Tanenbaum Harber Co. of New York City.

Visual artwork

Hartwell developed as a quilt artist during this time. Her work is mostly autobiographical, drawing upon the continuous exposure to folk-life customs and traditions she had in her youth.

A collection of her work can be found at the Museum of Arts and Design.

In 1996, Hartwell received a grant from the National Quilting Association, Inc. to create a ten quilt series that recorded her South Carolina childhood and farm experiences.

Education and career

Hartwell has a B.A. in Theater from Queens College, Queens, N.Y. She has a Certificate of Completion: Artists in Classrooms, Developing Strategies for Working with Students with Disabilities from S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind, Spartanburg, S.C.. She is on the Roster as a Master Artist for Opus Inc., Hartford, CT. She is also on the Roster as Artist in the Classroom for the State of South Carolina.

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