Shirley Was First © Kat Campau

Shirley Was First: Shirley Temple Black

Kat Campau

The Villages, Florida, USA

Artist Statement

My interest in making art usually concerns color. I have a visceral reaction to color, in all combinations. Strong color makes me salivate, and breathe faster. It’s funny, but true, that the first time I saw a painting by Monet, I had a terrible desire to taste it.

The many combinations of color are what first draw me to art quilts and paintings. I think of fabric as a painting medium when I am making a quilt. A story is usually the secondary reason I make art. The sight of a flower, the color of a jacket, or the pattern of a tile can inspire a mental picture, which I then try to translate in fabric. This translation becomes the story of the quilt.

Sometimes an emotion causes me to begin an art project. When I turned 40 it seemed that I became invisible. It was harder to attract the attention of clerks in stores, waiters in restaurants, and people in general. In reaction I made a series of art quilts expressing this feeling of being ignored. The quilts I made for HERSTORY are part of my effort to give courage to the gray haired ladies who are the underlying structure of society.

My first thought about Shirley Temple Black was to remember her dancing on the stairway with Bill Bo Jangles Robinson, as a very young child. I used to dream about being able to perform like her. Although I was aware she became active in public service as an adult, my own interest remained in admiration of her show business persona.

My quilt has roses strewn on it, an expected tribute to a star of stage or screen. But these are for Shirley’s service to the nation as shown on the stairway, her truly praiseworthy actions we should remember.

Woman’s Groundbreaking Accomplishment

Shirley Temple Black was the first woman to serve as United States Chief of Protocol. She was also the First Woman Ambassador to Ghana, and Czechoslovakia. And she was the first child to receive and Academy Award.


Applique by sewing machine and fabric glue. Freehand machine quilting. Fused fabric was used in the flowers and leaves. Pleats are stitched in some areas. Raw edge fabric strips were twisted for the stems.


Cotton fabric, polyester fleece, rayon cording, fusible fabric glue, liquid fabric glue, glass beads.

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