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HABs Group Quilt

A Stitch In Time

A Chautauqua Lake Art-Sci Community Engagement Project on HABs

WHAT: Art/design/craft practitioner, Cynthia Pannucci, is proposing to lead the process of collaboratively designing and making a quilt called A Stitch In Time. The title is from the old saying, “a stitch in time saves nine,” meaning: It’s better to solve a tiny problem right away (with one sewn stitch) to stop it from becoming a much bigger one (that will require nine stitches). This can also be applied to our current situation with the growth and frequency of HABs (harmful algal blooms) in our beautiful freshwater lakes, including the beloved Chautauqua Lake. With this project, we’ll create a powerful, climate statement quilt while empowering female stewardship actions now and as a model for future generations.

PURPOSE: Can a group of female, lakeside property-owners learn about the science of HABs through questioning conversations, self-reflection, online research, design, making, and building trust while creating a collaborative quilt? Cynthia believes it’s imperative we create fun, art-sci “social bridges” to ensure science-based research and planning will be sustainable. This quilt could be shared at 4-H Clubs, County Fairs, university Extension Service and land and water conservation events.

BACKGROUND: Cynthia was a summer Artist-in-Residence at Chautauqua in 2022 and was raised a mile from Cayuga Lake, one of New York’s Finger Lakes. The environment and threats to biodiversity have long been a concern in her personal art. (and See for the three Anthropocene-themed exhibitions she organized that were held at the New York Hall of Science. Cynthia’s quilts won her an NEA Fellowship Award in Crafts (1982).

The New American Quilt, the first major museum exhibition of “art quilts,” was held in 1976 at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City. An image of Cynthia’s Hands & Feet Quilt (1976) became the cover of the printed exhibition invitation and also on the inside-cover of the exhibition catalog (which is archived online at:

The catalog had a sizeable amount of text devoted to the QUILTING BEE, noting that it was a huge social event of rural American life and by 1883, 75% of beds in American were covered with quilts. Today art quilts are thriving, and there is also a new African American Quilt Museum and Textile Academy located in Lawrence, Kansas. I almost think of quilting-bees as the “makerspaces” of yesteryears!