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Art Exhibition illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

A Conversation with Grandmother Edna in Franklin County, PA

Franklin County Visitors Bureau Invites All to A Conversation with Grandmother Edna: Fabric Artist and Storyteller

Franklin County Visitors Bureau hosts Edna Williams, a fabric artist and storyteller, at the 11/30 Visitors Center on July 17.

Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites the public to A Conversation with Grandmother Edna: Fabric Artist and Storyteller on July 17 at 1 PM in the Great Room of the 11/30 Visitors Center, on the square in Chambersburg PA. Visitors can enjoy more than a dozen quilts and pillow covers, created by Grandmother Edna and learn how she expresses herself through art to tell stories of her life and America’s history. The art, called Pillow Talk is on display in the lobby of the Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Centers.

Williams hails from Baltimore and is displayed at the 11/30 Visitors Center through the Franklin County Visitors Bureau’s relationship with the African American Historical Association of Western Maryland.

I reach back to move forward. It is the only way to grow, said Grandmother Edna. Her Pillow Talk display includes stories that connect directly to her mother, father, and grandmother as well as highlight her meetings with poet Maya Angelou and actor Harry Belafonte. Others tell stories related to enslavement and civil justice. Williams believes storytelling is a means to connecting people and endorses the importance of history stating, Why create a mountain when you can cross a hill.

Pillow Talk is displayed as part of the Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center’s Let The Journey Begin…People, Places, Possibilities. In addition to the storytelling quilts of Grandmother Edna, the exhibit looks at the quest for freedom from the earliest European settlers to the importance of the Pennsylvania Constitution’s Environmental Amendment.

A Conversation with Grandmother Edna is free and open to the public. Following the presentation, Grandmother Edna will offer a quilting and storytelling activity to participants who want to learn a little more. To reserve seating, please register here. A Conversation with Grandmother Edna is presented by the Franklin County Visitors Bureau as part of the July 17 Chambersburg Comes To Life Celebration, which includes the living history portrayal and light show depicting the 1864 Ransoming, Burning & Rebirth of Chambersburg.

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites all to explore Franklin County PA and enjoy trails of history, arts and architecture, recreation, natural beauty, fresh foods, and the warm hospitality of communities like Chambersburg, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Shippensburg, and Waynesboro. Franklin County PA is located just north of the Mason Dixon Line and is an easy drive from Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Discover more and plan a visit at their website or by contacting 866-646-(8060).

Q×A with Grandmother Edna 

By: Emily Bunn

Showcasing over a dozen quilts and pillow covers, Grandmother Edna weaves stories of her own life and chronicles American history into her fabric fashioning. The complex interweaving of Edna’s own life fluidly connects with the United States’ grappling with enslavement, civil justice, and the quest for freedom. Depicting familial relations, as well as Edna’s encounters with Maya Angelou and Harry Belafonte, Grandmother Edna brings history to life with her quilting and storytelling. 360 Magazine spoke with the artist about the success of “Pillow Talk”, what inspires her to create art, and her upcoming CD release.

When did you begin creating fabric art?

Really, I mentally began in the 1950’s [while] sitting on a stairway watching my grandmother quilting. Then, maybe somewhere around the late 80’s, I decided to pick my poems up from midnight brown paper bags writings to hand sewn quilting.

What first got you interested in American history?

Being Black in the 50’s going with my grandmother to be the help/maid. And, in the 60’s, attending an all white school.

If you were to create fabric art to express our current moment in time, what would that design look like?

I have a new quilt on exhibit titled: “There Was A Time When The Universe Was FREE.”

What inspired you to start selling your quilted creations, pillow covers, and fabric art?

First of all, my quilts will never be for sale. My pillow covers sales will I hope help fund my free educational mobile classroom called “A Grandmother’s Pilgrimage, INC.” and my Grace Wisher Reparation Recovery Youth Scholarship Fund, LLC. 

What inspired the name “pillow talk” for your exhibition?

I travel through the country as an invisible soul, no one seems to listen to anything I had to say. I decided to create a nightcap to relax the busy minds of everyone–and just maybe they would have time to hear me.

What has the reaction to “pillow talk” been like?

Amazing, fresh. It’s a newness in the art world.

What has working with the The Franklin County Visitors Bureau and The African American Historical Association of Western Maryland been like?

Exciting, cool and [represents] that change is coming, History being over-hauled. Janet and Ron have been great to partner with. I hope this [exhibit] will … improve that culture sock everyone keep avoiding in this America.

Your fabric art often reflects stories from your own life. What milestones from your life have you felt were most important to include in your artwork?

It’s that front door entry thing for me. The lost traditions of my people.

Are you currently working on any exciting fabric art projects that you can reveal to 360 Magazine’s readers?

Yes, I have my new CD on release. I have a file cabinet packed with poems to be quilted. I have faith the money will come. It’s appears to be easy, but it’s very hard to get paid for a job very well done. This is all fun and relaxing for me. I tell everyone to Just sew your emotions. Thanks 360 Magazine for this new media.

360 Magazine, LA PRIDE 50th Anniversary

H&M × Banana Republic × UN Free Supports Global LGBTI Equality

The United Nations Foundation announced today that top global brands H&M and Banana Republic are once again partnering with UN Free & Equal for Pride Month this June to raise awareness and funds in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) equality worldwide. H&M will donate $100,000 to the global campaign this year, while Banana Republic will donate $60,000 this Pride Month.

“Pride connects directly to our core values and encapsulates our social vision to enable everyone at H&M and beyond to live the life they want, express who they are and to be the best of themselves”, says Pascal Brun, Global Sustainability Manager, H&M.

Both H&M and Banana Republic have long supported UN Free & Equal, a global campaign of the United Nations Human Rights Office that strives to advance equal rights and fair treatment for LGBTI people around the world. With this year’s contributions, H&M has now donated a total of $850,000, while Banana Republic has donated $240,000 to date through partnerships with UN Free & Equal.

“Inclusion has always been part of Banana Republic’s DNA and we are proud to partner with UN Free & Equal again this year to support their mission for LGBTI equality and human rights,” said Ana Andjelic, CBO of Banana Republic. “The past year has shown it is more important than ever to fight for equality and celebrate opportunity for all.”

Pride celebrations this year are taking place against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – a global crisis that has further exposed and exacerbated inequities and underscored the urgency of protecting the rights of LGBTI people.

“Every person – no matter who they are, where they live, or whom they love – deserves to live freely and authentically with full equality,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President & CEO of the UN Foundation. “The UN Foundation is proud to support UN Free & Equal in the fight for global LGBTI equality, and is grateful to both H&M and Banana Republic for their continued partnership.”

Now in its eighth year, the UN Free & Equal campaign aims to win respect, recognition, and acceptance for the human rights of LGBTI people around the world. The campaign reaches parents, students, teachers, journalists, and policymakers, especially in countries where LGBTI communities face hostility and hardship and aims to cultivate new allies in the fight for equality. It has campaigned in more than 30 countries so far, with 12 full-scale national campaigns currently active.

“LGBTI people remain among those who are most often left behind due to exclusion, discrimination and violence, and this has been further exacerbated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Young LGBTI people in particular face disproportionate levels of family rejection, bullying online and offline, homelessness and restrictions on access to information,” said Michael van Gelderen, LGBTI lead at UN Human Rights.

In support of LGBTI youth, UN Free & Equal recently launched a campaign with the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth calling on allies to support young LGBTI people in creating a fearless future where all young people are safe, loved and empowered to thrive – regardless of who they are or whom they love. The campaign, which is made possible by the generous support of corporate and Government donors, kicked off on May 17, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and will run through International Youth Day on August 12.

To learn more about the UN Free & Equal campaign, visit here.

About H&M
H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB (publ) was founded in Sweden in 1947 and is quoted on Nasdaq Stockholm. H&M’s business idea is to offer fashion and quality at the best price in a sustainable way. In addition to H&M, the group includes the brands COS, Monki, Weekday, & Other Stories, H&M HOME and ARKET as well as Afound. The H&M group has 53 online markets and approximately 4,950 stores in 74 markets including franchise markets. In 2020, net sales were SEK 187 billion. The number of employees amounts to approximately 153,000. For further information, visit here.

About Banana Republic
Banana Republic is a global apparel and accessories brand committed to building a better tomorrow for people and the planet. Designed with purpose for those who share a passion for life with no boundaries, Banana Republic is redefining luxury by using the finest materials with the latest fabric innovations to create timeless, modern, and versatile clothing, eyewear, jewelry, shoes, handbags, and fragrances. Founded in 1978 in San Francisco, Banana Republic connects with customers online and in company-operated and franchise retail locations globally. For more information, please visit here.

About United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation is an independent charitable organization created to be a strategic partner for the United Nations to address humanity’s greatest challenges, build initiatives across sectors to solve problems at scale, and drive global progress. Learn more here.

About UN Free & Equal
The UN Free & Equal campaign is an unprecedented global public information campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTI people. It was launched by the United Nations Human Rights Office in July 2013 and has since reached hundreds of millions of people globally through traditional and social media as well as generated a stream of widely shared materials – including powerful videos, impactful graphics and plain-language fact sheets. For more information please visit here.