Nedra Bonds is an artist who uses her talents to share messages about social justice and to teach and preserve history. Her primary art medium is quilt making. She has created more than 100 quilts. They have been displayed in various traveling art shows and locally at the Jazz Museum, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Park University. She was commissioned to create a quilt for the Kansas City Chiefs Art Program. It’s called “Common Threads” and it shows three women of different nationalities on the Quindaro Bluffs quilting the northern star. Nedra began quilting at the age of six. She said she was only allowed to watch television if she was doing something constructive while she was watching – which was quilting. She never thought it would turn into her life’s work.
Nedra majored in American Studies at the University of Kansas and spent some time teaching college classes and working in the field of education. She said she first realized she was an artist when people began reacting to her art. Her first quilt told the story of the history of Quindaro (it was created at a time when a landfill was being planned in that area). She said, “People need to tell their stories for healing as well as for information and to document history. Quilting is a way to do that in a noncontroversial way. There’s something about the stories being on fabric that makes them more inviting to people.”
She still carries with her some of the messages that came from her elementary school teachers who taught her when she was a student at Quindaro. Her PE teacher told students, “You can do anything.” And her 4th grade teacher, who was from Russia, shared stories of the hard life she had growing up, and told students, “No matter what you are going through, you can overcome it.”
Navigating is second nature to Nedra, who draws from the twists and turns in her life to create personal pieces of art. Ever since she picked up her first quilting needle at the age of six, Nedra has learned to speak through the images her hands create. Her quilts, paintings and other works serve to tell her story and give voice to community issues and
causes close to her heart.
Nedra’s most recent creation, “The Hands that Healed Me,” features handprint images from the physicians, nurses and other caregivers who helped her during her cancer journey.
“This is my tribute to the special people who cared for me,” she said. “This is my way of saying to them, ‘What is in your brain is important, but what you do with your hands has gotten me on my feet.’”