Peggie L

Peggie L Hartwell

She // Her // Hers

[ID: A candid portrait of a Black woman wearing a tan cap and glasses with colorful quilts out of focus behind her. She holds a quilt to her chest with one hand and gestures with the other as if in the middle of a conversation.]

Narrative Quilt Artist
Summerville, SC
2022 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett.

Born in Springfield, South Carolina, Peggie Hartwell spent her early childhood on a farm among a large, extended family of quilters and storytellers. Hartwell’s education began in a three-room country schoolhouse. A child of the great migration of southern African American farmers who moved north during the 1940s and ’50s, she completed her education in New York City. Later, her education continued intermittently: studies with legendary dance master Syvilla Fort, a theater arts degree from Queens College, and classes at The New School of Art and Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology, including painting on silk, batik, and tailoring.

Hartwell spent eight years as a professional dancer, performing jazz, modern primitive, and modern dance throughout Europe and the Middle East. In the 1970s, she returned to New York, where she began making patchwork, strip, and crazy quilts. Her response to a letter in the Quilters Newsletter launched Hartwell as a charter member of the Women of Color Quilters Network, forging community with other African American story quilters — a journey that continues today.

In 2001, Hartwell moved home to South Carolina, where she takes part in local quilting groups. Her Voices on Cloth residencies entail making story banners, fabric murals, and biographical story-quilt blocks, providing a nurturing environment where young people develop creativity and visual storytelling and quilt-making skills.

Hartwell’s quilts have been exhibited in and collected by major museums across the United States, including the Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, DC, and the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Portrait photo by Barrett Stinson/The Grand Island Independent.

  • Artwork by Peggie L Hartwell
    Ode to the Storyteller, 2016. Cotton/batik fabrics, cotton batting, and thread, dimensions 22 × 48 inches.
    [ID: A colorful quilt depicting a Black figure wearing overalls and a red hat looking out at the viewer. Behind the figure, three white horses run across the vast blue landscape. There are flowers at the person's feet.]
  • Artwork by Peggie L Hartwell
    Sweetgrass Basket Weaver, 2018. Cotton/batik fabrics, cotton batting, and thread, dimensions 40 × 40 inches.
    [ID: A quilt of many textures, colors, and patterns depicting a Black woman weaving a basket in a wicker chair. She sits on a field of turquoise, green, and purple fabric.]
  • Artwork by Peggie L Hartwell
    Marketplace, 2018. Cotton/batik fabrics, cotton batting and thread, dimensions 61.5 × 40.5 inches. Collaborative piece created with students during a residency at Summerville High School, Summerville, North Carolina.
    [ID: A quilt picturing a vivid scene of nine people standing around a table. Overhead is a light blue sky with a decorative pattern sewn on top. The table is covered in leafy produce.]
Artwork by Peggie L Hartwell Artwork by Peggie L Hartwell Artwork by Peggie L Hartwell