AUGUST 22, 2004


Born January 30, 1909, in Honolulu, Meali’I began quilting in her teens when her grandmother had her create a design based on the breadfruit tree.  It took her a year and a half to complete.  In 1943, after attending the University of Hawaii, Kalama taught public school and taught quilting for the Department of Parks and Recreation.  From 1950 until retiring in 1975, she was a playground and recreation center director and taught quilting at playgrounds, parks, and at her church.  She produced quilts for the Maunakea Hotel, as well as a quilt for the bed that belonged to Queen Liliuokalani, whose home became the governor’s mansion.  “I cannot quilt when I am troubled or under stress . . . you would not want a quilt which was not made with love.”  Credited with reviving Hawaiian quilting, in 1985 she received a Fellowship grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.  Her works have been exhibited by the Museum of International Folk Art and in the Smithsonian Institution

Source:  “Mealii Lalama,” National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) National Heritage Fellowships.  Retrieved 6/14/2020,
Photo:  NEA, 1985. Courtesy, NEA. Public Domain.  

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