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Underground Railroad quilt codes on display at NOVA-Manassas

Quilts designed and created by master quilter Sharon Tindall will be on display at the Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College Feb. 3 to 28 in honor of Black History Month. The exhibition is free and open to the public 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The campus is at 6901 Sudley Road. For more information, contact Barbara Lash a blash@nvcc.edu or 703-257-6657.

The exhibition is called “The Underground Railroad Quilt Codes, Fact or Fiction?” Tindall has performed considerable research into how African-American slaves used patterns in quilt blocks to pass along Underground Railroad routes. Her examination of these quilt codes has taken her to such places as Charleston, S.C., and Monrovia, Liberia.

“The Underground Railroad quilt codes are about the freedom of African-American slaves and their daring escape,” Tindall said. “Quilts that hung in plain sight on clotheslines and porches contained secret codes that enabled slaves to follow paths to freedom.”

Tindall employs quilt patterns to preserve and share her African heritage. “Before conducting research on the existence of the Underground Railroad quilt codes, I wondered why my quilts were so unlike other quilter’s pieces. Now I understand that my textiles reflect my style and my unique heritage.”

Tindall received professional textiles training at Montclair State University in New Jersey and has more than 25 years of experience in quilting and sewing. She enjoys sharing her passion for textiles as an instructor, speaker and commissioned textile artist. She teaches for G-Street Fabrics, Northern Virginia Community College and Morgan State University in Baltimore.

Tindall’s quilts have been exhibited in museums throughout Virginia, and she regularly shares her knowledge of the Underground Railroad quilt codes at schools, colleges, museums and organizations. Grants from the Virginia Community College System and the Virginia Folklife Program have helped her pursue her avocation. She lives in Centreville.

Media Contact: Carlene Mackereth | 703.257.6658 | cmackereth@nvcc.edu

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.

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