Ms. Odessa Rice, local folk artist, looks forward to annual festival celebration

Ms. Odessa Rice of Mantua, AL is a longtime participant in the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival, which began in 1975 as part of the Miles College Eutaw Extension Program. Ms. Rice, who is noted as a bearer of the culture and traditions of the West Alabama region, is noted for her basketweaving, quilting and related needle crafts including knitting, crocheting and embroidery.
Ms. Rice has designed baskets, dolls and sundry other items from bullrush grass, corn husks and pine needles. She often dabbles in jewelry making.
She learned quilting at a very young age, mastering the storied designs handed down to her from family members and neighbors. “ We made quilts to keep our families warm during cold winter nights and to also make a room more beautiful,” according to Ms. Odessa Rice. She also noted that quilting, like canning fruits and vegetables, was necessary to care for the family, but these activities were also very important social gatherings. “ We looked forward to getting together with family and neighbors to work with our hands, tell our stories and just laugh and feel good,” stated Ms. Rice.
Ms. Rice, who is very creative in her art, seemingly finds a use for most objects others would throw out or discard. For example, a used-up roll of paper towels presents the opportunity for Ms. Rice to knit a decorative covering for the empty cardboard tube. “I usually throw nothing away. I just find another way to use it,” she said.
Although Ms. Rice is in the decade of her eighties, she is still committed to participating in the 2022 Black Belt Folk Roots Festival scheduled for Saturday, August 27 and Sunday August 28 on the Thomas Gilmore Courthouse Square (old courthouse square) in the center of the City of Eutaw, Greene County, AL.
“I cannot quilt like I used to. It takes steady hands and sharp eyes for those fine stitches, but I am doing the best I can with my baskets and some jewelry to take to the festival. I look forward to our festival every year. It’s just in my heart,” she commented.
The festival is sponsored by the Society of Folk Arts & Culture. For more information contact Carol P. Zippert at 205-372-0525; email – zippert.carol79@gmail.com.

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