A special exhibit of a FWAF community quilting project is underway at the Museum of the Apopkans. The beautiful and meaningful quilts, mostly made by artist and farmworker Linda Lee, with the help of the community, honor local farmworkers who were exposed to harmful pesticides at Lake Apopka.
The exhibit of the Lake Apopka Farmworker Memorial Quilts and Linda Lee’s hand-stitched quilt squares runs from August 17th until August 24th. The folk art of Linda Lee honors farmworkers Geraldean, Betty Dubose, Betty Woods and Earma Peterson among others, by capturing their lives and stories in fabric. Alongside the quilts, more information about the pesticide disaster at Lake Apopka is on display. For example FWAF compiled a collection of news articles about the Lake Apopka farmworkers going back to 1996.
Part of the exhibit is a book signing by the author of ‘Fed Up: The High Costs of Cheap Food’ by Dale Finley Slongwhite. Linda Lee is featured in the book, along with nine other African American farmworkers from the local community. For more information on the exhibit please visit the website of the Apopka museum Below you can find a photo impression of the exhibit, (all photos are by FWAF) and the story of Linda Lee and her art and more about the book ‘Fed Up’.
Who is Linda Lee?
Linda Lee is a life-long resident of Apopka and a respected member of her community. As a former Lake Apopka farmworker who worked on the vegetable farms and nurseries in Central Florida, Ms. Lee has been involved in raising awareness about and depicting the stories of the lives and work of the Lake Apopka farmworkers who were exposed to harmful pesticides for decades. To convey the contributions of the African American farmworker community to the public, Ms. Lee has spoken about her life to student, church and civic groups; presented on panels and as a speaker at conferences and environmental justice meetings and forums; and participated in Lake Apopka Toxic Tours of the former farmlands.
Capturing stories in quilt squares
She is the primary quilter of the Lake Apopka Farmworker Memorial Quilts and is featured in Fed Up: The High Costs of Cheap Food by Dale Slongwhite. She worked in her community to capture the stories and lives of other Lake Apopka farmworkers and used her inspiration to convert those stories into the quilt squares that were sown into the quilt. Since the completion of the quilts, she has continued to sew individual quilt squares for her friends and family members, and to lead her grand-children and great-grandchildren in art projects. Her creativity has also been demonstrated in the Labor of Love Mural, that depicts the history of the Black community in South Apopka. (The mural is currently being moved to a new location.)
More on ‘Fed Up, the high cost of cheap food’
In Fed Up, Dale Slongwhite collects the nearly inconceivable and chilling oral histories of African American farmworkers whose lives, and those of their families, were forever altered by one of the most disturbing pesticide exposure incidents in United States’ history. Click here to read more about the book.