Cuesta Benberry
(1923-2007)
Quilt historian, author, Always There: The African-American Presence in American Quilts
Inducted in 1983 at the Continental Quilting Congress, Arlington, Virginia.
Research Associate: Mary Sue Hannan
Cuesta's interest in quilting began with the study of quilt block patterns, when she was serving as a
teacher and school librarian. Her great research abilities brought her to the attention of Patricia Almy's
magazine, Nimble Treasures where many of her articles appeared.

She produced so many articles that she requested some be printed without her by-line. Later articles
by Cuesta were found in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine and in Quilters' Journal. Her research is so vast
that in nearly every quilt book today, Cuesta Benberry will be quoted in the text or her name will
appear in the bibliography.

Her focus on African American quilts and quilters led to a perfect paper, "Afro-American Women and
Quilts," for the first symposium of a new organization, the American Quilt Study Group, in 1980. Later
she curated several exhibits of African American quilts, accompanied by publications: Always There:
The African American Presence in American Quilts (1992) and a Piece of My Soul: Quilts by Black
Arkansans (2000). Her only quilt, a sampler, also reflects her research, for it is made up of blocks
known to have appeared in earlier African American quilts.

In 1997, she joined Honoree Joyce Gross in curating an exhibit that was accompanied by a seminar,
"20th Century Quilts: 1900-1970: Women Make Their Mark" at the Museum of American Quilter's
Society, Paducah, Kentucky.
Cuesta Benberry Receives Awards
Anyone Can Fly Foundation
Honoree Cuesta Benberry of St. Louis, Missouri, received the Anyone Can Fly Foundation Award in
August, presented by quilt artist Faith Ringgold, President of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Their mission is “to expand the art establishment’s canon in include artists of the African Diaspora
and to introduce the Great Masters of African American Art and their art traditions to kids as well as
adult audiences.” Cuesta was thrilled and surprised, as this is the first award they have given to
someone who did not apply to it.

Link:
http://www.artsnet.org/anyonecanfly/
American Folk Art Museum
On October 1 and 2, 2004, Cuesta was honored by the American Folk Art Museum at their Quilt
Weekend in New York City. Doris Bowman of the Smithsonian Institution, Amelia Peck of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, and quilt artists Michael Cummings and Kyra Hicks reflected on Cuesta’s
influence at a roundtable discussion. Cuesta remarked when she heard the news, “Between shock and
surprise and tears welling up in me, I am a mixture of smiling and crying at the same time.” Cuesta
donated her extensive library and collection of archival materials to the museum’s Shirley K. Schlafer
Library. This significant gift compliments the museum’s collection of more than 500 historic quilts.

American Folk Art Museum
45 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 265-1040
info@folkartmuseum.org
http://www.folkartmuseum.org/



Memorial Tribute to Cuesta Benberry by Karen B. Alexander

The Alliance for American Quilts mini documentary of Cuesta Benberry

Anyone Can Fly Foundation - full transcript of the interview in HTML format, with bibliography and
photos

Anyone Can Fly Foundation - full transcript on the interview in PDF format, with bibliography (without
photos)