Star Song

Bec Groves

Alice Olsen Williams is a quilter, storyteller and activist. Alice communicates through her quilts, which she refers to as blanket making. In January of 2019, Alice’s work was featured in the solo exhibition Star Song at Artspace in Peterborough Ontario. With over 30 years of experience designing and creating blankets, the exhibition displayed a small, but powerful selection of Alice’s work. Alice’s blankets and wall hangings are layered with meaning and display both figurative and symbolic representations of her Anishinaabe heritage. Using floral, animal and geometric forms, Alice’s labour-intensive designs depict Anishinaabe history and ideology as a way to share and reflect on contemporary social issues. You can see examples of this through her work My Mother’s Gift and Our Elders Speak on display in Artspace’s main gallery. 

  

Alice uses her blankets as a form of activism, implementing traditional North American quilting techniques, blocks and patterns. Alice grounds each of her quilts with a Medicine Wheel. This serves as both an artist's signature and as the foundation in which Alice finds inspiration to create her work. Her connection to land, community and family pushes her to use her platform as a quilter to broach meaningful politic topics such as Indigenous Land rights and cultural genocide. The exhibition Star Song successfully opens a dialogue to confront, educate and inform viewers about Anishinaabe heritage and social justice issues. Alice is starting and making significant contributions to the necessary conversation around her Anishinaabe ancestry and culture through her practice of blanket making.