Lawrence quilter's programming accepted into Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

Marla Quilts, Inc. News Release

Contact: Marla Jackson (785) 371-6682

Textile Academy accepted as Network to Freedom program by National Park Service

Marla Jackson, Lawrence, Kansas textile artist and owner of The African American Quilt Museum and Textile Academy, received word on March 10 from the National Park Service that her programming was accepted by the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom as nationally significant.

Jackson has taught hundreds of students in the Lawrence area how to research, design and showcase African-American stories through quilts and multi-media. The Textile Academy utilizes her Beyond the Book curriculum including textile dyeing, sewing, design and quilting to visualize African-American stories. 

Jackson is a nationally known visual artist recognized for her Story Quilts. “I am particularly drawn to stories and images depicting slavery and freedom,” Jackson said. In the past few years, she has guided students to visualize those stories in textiles and quilts featuring John Brown, the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry, and one titled Still We Rise, for the 150th commemoration of Quantrill’s Raid.

Jackson works collaboratively with teachers, social service agencies and historic sites. She was artist-in-residence at the Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka and received two grants from Freedom’s Frontier National Historic Area to work with students to produce story quilts. 

Jackson strives to include students of all abilities and learning styles to imagine, create and welcome the arts into their lives. Using her Beyond the Book curriculum, Jackson says the power of the program is that, “The process demonstrates the power of art to heal and strengthen self-esteem while enhancing learning opportunities using alternative avenues.” 

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Women of Color Quilters Network. Jackson has exhibited work in more than 32 venues including the American Folk Art Museum in New York and has a quilt in permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum.

The Network to Freedom program was established by Congress in 1998 as “an enduring national commemorative Underground Railroad program of education, example, education and reconciliation.” There are several sites in the region which help tell and interpret these themes. As a member, Jackson is eligible to display the network logo, receive technical assistance and participate in program work shops. 

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