Quilts and Health

Quilts and Health

Marsha MacDowell, Clare Luz and Beth Donaldson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/22/2017
Format: Hardback 110 color illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-03226-3
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Name an illness, medical condition, or disease and you will find quiltmaking associated with it. From Alzheimer’s to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lou Gehrig's Disease to Crigler-Najjar Syndrome, and for nearly every form of cancer, millions of quilts have been made in support of personal well-being, health education, patient advocacy, memorialization of victims, and fundraising. In Quilts and Health, Marsha MacDowell, Clare Luz, and Beth Donaldson explore the long historical connection between textiles and health and its continued and ever growing importance in contemporary society. This lavishly illustrated book brings together over one hundred health-related quilts—with imagery from abstract patterns to depictions of fibromyalgia to an ovarian cancer diary—and the stories behind the art, as told by makers, recipients, healthcare professionals, and many others. This incredible book speaks to the healing power of quilts and quiltmaking and to the deep connections between art and health.

Author Bio

Marsha MacDowell is Professor of Art, Art History, and Design at Michigan State University, Curator of Folk Arts at the Michigan State University Museum, and Director of the Quilt Index (www.quiltindex.org). She has authored many publications on traditional material culture and quiltmaking, including Quilts and Human Rights and Ubuntutu.

Clare Luz is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a gerontologist whose research focuses on quality of life for vulnerable older adults, long-term care health services, and the intersection of health, creativity, and the arts.

Beth Donaldson is Digital Humanities Project Asset Coordinator at the Michigan State University Museum and Coordinator of the Quilt Index. She is a quilt maker and coauthor of Quilts and Human Rights, among other publications on quilts.


“This wide-ranging collection of quilts associated with health is accompanied by the stories of the makers, and shows that this art form can be both beautiful and therapeutic to the quilter, the recipient, and the viewer alike.”
 — Machine Quilting Unlimited

“This book will be used and enjoyed for years to come by those seeking further scientific research but also by individuals who know personally, without a doubt, the act of quilting or receiving a quilt is therapeutic for healing of body and soul.”
 — The Quilt Pattern Magazine

“"Quilts and Health explores the myriad connections that are forged between disease, recovery, and quilt making."”
 — New Books Network

    "Richly informed through extensive interviews and quantitative and visual analysis, Quilts and Health will appeal to diverse audiences. One hopes that medical practitioners, who will benefit the most from this beautiful and instructive book, will encounter it and read it with care."”
     — Choice Reviews

    “The book will appeal to quilt enthusiasts, health care providers, as well as folklorists, and will be equally at home in a hospital waiting area, in a quilt guild’s library, or on the desk of those who study quilts and quilt makers.”
     — Western Folklore

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    Table of Contents

    1. Evidence of the Impact of Quilts and Quiltmaking on Health and Healthcare Outcomes
    2. The Art of Health-related Quiltmaking
    3. Individual Experiences of Health and Wellbeing through Quiltmaking
    4. Public and Collective Quiltmaking for Health and Wellbeing
    5. Quilts in Healing Environments and Clinical Care
    6. Conclusion
    Appendix A: Guide to Whatever It Takes: An Ovarian Cancer Diary
    Appendix B: Quilt Makers and Quilt Recipients

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