2009 Mary Rhopa La Ciera's "Patchwork Heritage" Obama Inaugural Quilt

2009 Mary Rhopa La Ciera's "Patchwork Heritage" Obama Inaugural Quilt

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Mary Rhopa la Cierra made this quilt on the occasion of President Barack Obama’s Inauguration in 2009. She was inspired by the television coverage of the crowds of people in attendance. Mary embroidered the very small emblem of the US Capitol at top center with radiating lines and many pieces of patterned fabrics to represent the massive crowds in attendance and the distances many had come. The title, “OUR PATCHWORK HERITAGE IS A STRENGTH” appliqued at the top of the quilt was taken from the President's inauguration speech.
The quilt is machine strip pieced, appliqued, embroidered and stamped or stenciled. “OUR PATCHWORK HERITAGE IS A STRENGTH” is hand appliqued (blanket stitch) and outline machine quilted across the top. The word “HOPE” is stenciled with gold paint on the majority of the blocks and border squares and then machine outline stitched. One hundred 7-inch blocks make up the center of the quilt; each with a red center, creating an appearance of diagonal sashing. She used fabrics recycled from clothing found at yard sales and thrift stores, especially the shop that supports a local women’s shelter. The muted colors of the blocks evoke the winter coats worn by the massive crowds in the very cold weather that day. These blocks are framed by forty-four 7-inch yellow and tan blocks as a border.
Mary Rhopa la Cierra, born in Iowa, is a retired theatrical costume designer living in Florida. On her retirement, among many other activities she began quilting. At her 80th birthday party she gave away most of her quilts to friends. One friend, the donor, was particularly interested in having this quilt, “Patchwork Heritage,” which she had admired for its beauty and its message. She enjoyed it in her home for a time, and then donated it to the Collection, with the approval of the maker, Mary Rhopa la Cierra.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
La Cierra, Mary Rhopa
place made
United States: Florida, Saint Augustine
Physical Description
cotton, synthetics (overall material)
pieced; appliqued; stencilled; machine-embroidered (overall production method/technique)
overall: 86 in x 86 in; 218 cm x 218 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Gail and Ken Rowles
African American History
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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