Ethel Swartley

Ethel Swartley

English Language Center, TESOL, ESP, ethnography, cross-cultural communication, quilt, textile, culture, writing, communication

English Language Center, TESOL, ESP, ethnography, cross-cultural communication, quilt, textile, culture, writing, communication

Cross-Cultural Quilts

In addition to teaching, I enjoy many forms of creative expression, including quilt-making and other work with textiles. My cross-cultural interests seem to creep into all areas of my life, as this gallery shows.


Everywhere I have traveled in the world, rice has been a staple food, and this quilt honors the role that rice has played in sustaining human life throughout the centuries. The materials are three cotton rice bags from India and Pakistan and fabrics depicting Chinese calligraphy, Japanese sushi, and Senegalese thatch-roofed houses. " />
This quilt was a Round Robin "paint chip challenge" quilt created with several women of the Common Thread Quilt Club. Each woman randomly chose three paint sample cards from a paper bag, and the colors of the cards became the color theme of her quilt. My colors were turquoise, apricot, and olive green. I provided fabrics and the starting ship-at-sea block. Each woman added a different border of her own design and choosing. When the quilt top returned to me, I sandwiched and quilted it. One Turkish-looking fabric is used heavily in the inner borders. This, in conjunction with the ship theme, inspired me to honor the "Barbary Pirates", legendary privateers who operated off the coast of North Africa (home of the Berbers) during the 17th through 18th Centuries - much feared by European merchant ship captains and often romantically depicted in Orientalist art and literature. " />

Although I have never been to Mozambique, a friend in my quilt club brought me a small batik painting from there after my teaching trip to West Africa. The painting reminded me of a young warrior heading off to prove himself, so I made it the centerpiece of this quilt.

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This quilt was made in collaboration with nine other members of the Common Thread Quilt Club in Parker, Colorado. It contains both commercially available fabrics and materials and medallions purchased during my 2007 teaching trip to West Africa. The quilt now hangs in the front lobby of the English Language Center.

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This quilt commemorates the hundreds of glasses of sweet Turkish tea I drank while advising the Turkish Cultural Club at Drexel University from 1994 to 2002.

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I worked like a dog during my two weeks in Curacao (teaching in the classroom 8 hours a day), but breakfast was my peaceful time. I loved the open air buffet overlooking the ocean and the orioles who flew in to steal sugar packets off the tables.


The backing on this quilt (not shown here) is a piece of blue and yellow floral fabric I bought in downtown Handelskade.

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The background fabric in this quilt is an Indonesian sarong batik, and the design represents three of the most ubiquitous lifeforms in a Sumatran garden: the bird of paradise flower, the chichuk (gecko) and the spider (the quilting threads follow a web design).

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A Chinese lantern scrap quilt made for a young friend, Kelsey Lucenius.

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This portfolio last updated: Jul 4, 2016 1:00:47 PM