Robert Handy (06/08/1908 - 04/17/1989)

Robert Handy is the only male quilter represented in our State Folk Arts collections. He is the son of John Salis Handy and Mahlie Handy, and moved to Utah in 1946 from Louisiana. Robert proudly admits that he can cook, sew, make hats, dresses and clothes, and iron and starch. He learned these skills as a very small child from his mother, who taught him so he would “not be beholding to anybody.”

Robert’s grandparents lived in Utah, prompting him to settle here. From a family of five, he spent some of his formative years in a foster home. He has grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even great great grandchildren. As a quilter he delights in the fact that he has taught his children the craft. Robert has been recognized within Salt Lake’s Black community for his proficiency in domestic skills, particularly for his southern-style vegetable garden, his mouthwatering pound cake and for his traditional Afro-American style quilt. In this quilt, the improvization upon the well-known star quilt design and the seemingly randome placement of a variety of colors and differently patterned fabric reflect Afro-American quilting aesthetics.

Robert Handy
African American Quilt