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The International Honor Quilt (IHQ) is a collaborative, grassroots feminist art project initiated by Judy Chicago in 1980. It is owned by the University of Louisville and its Hite Institute of Art and Design.
The International Honor Quilt, also known at various times as the International Quilting Bee, is a corollary project initiated by Judy Chicago “to extend the spirit” around the world of her monumental feminist art installation The Dinner Party, now permanently housed at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. A call for participation was published in 1980, triggering a community-driven response that eventually produced hundreds of triangle-shaped panels that were donated to Through the Flower, a 501(c)3 non-profit feminist art organization founded in 1978 by Judy Chicago. Prospective contributors were instructed to create a 24-inch equilateral triangle quilt that identified the name of the honoree as well as their respective city, state, and country. Contributors were also asked to include their explanation for the woman or women's organization that they chose, along with biographical information about the maker and a description of the techniques and materials used.
The IHQ project began with the second exhibition on The Dinner Party’s tour at the University of Houston at Clear Lake City Community College in Houston, Texas, March to May of 1980. The successive locations were scattered across North America, Europe, and Australia until 1996. After the conclusion of The Dinner Party tour, the IHQ was housed at Through the Flower. After returning from The Dinner Party tour, a few curators, recognizing the significance of the IHQ and its individual commemorative pieces, periodically borrowed selections of the panels to include in independently curated exhibitions in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Los Angeles, California on topics related to feminist art, Judy Chicago, and quilts.
Until October 2013, the IHQ was kept in storage at Through the Flower. After the conclusion of negotiations, Through the Flower generously gifted the collection and its cataloging to the University of Louisville and its Hite Institute of Art and Design with the intention that it be utilized as an educational tool and preserved as an esteemed art object so that it can provide a unique resource for research relating to preserving women’s voices.
Now in its new home at the Hite Institute of Art and Design, the IHQ is ready and available to scholars, students, and the community to fulfill its potential as a monumental project of women’s handiwork. As a time capsule of historical information, an unique feminist art project, and a model for the role of art as a catalyst for change, it invites and welcomes renewed conversation about women’s place in history, about identity and societal dynamics, and about equality and social justice.