Lillis Taylor is a Birmingham, AL native with a penchant for exploration. Like a boomerang, she ventures into the world, gathers experience, and makes art. Since her return to Birmingham, she creates opportunities to share the knowledge and techniques from her travels with her local community.
Taylor studied Industrial Design at the University of Washington in Seattle and after graduation in 2003, she worked as a toy developer. During a trip to China to visit factories where her products were made, Taylor realized that community was missing from her creative life. The distance between ideation meetings with clients and the cramped rooms where Chinese engineers created prototypes was too vast for any real understanding of the community between maker and consumer. Shortly after the trip, Taylor shifted gears and returned to the University of Washington for a master's degree in China Studies, which she planned to put to use in US-China labor relations. Before beginning the program, Taylor spent a year in Wuhan, China teaching English to 1st and 2nd graders at Wuhan Experimental Primary School.
Upon completion of the master's program in 2009, Taylor shifted gears again, realizing that public affairs would address her need to build community, but it would not strengthen her creative life. While seeking the perfect combination of both, Taylor moved to Italy and worked as a graphic designer and photographer for an international theater company. In order to join the company in Poland for its Zero Budget Festival that fall, Taylor proposed a workshop called Quilted: An International Community Project. It was with this workshop that Taylor merged her desires and created a foundation for subsequent community projects, classes, and personal work.
Since 2009, Taylor has started a textile design company, using her father's imagery to create her fabrics; she has taught sewing to adults and children throughout Birmingham; she has started a sewing non-profit to give local women a meeting place to share their talents; she has brought sewing into the hospital environment to ease stress, anxiety and boredom; and she has created an annual community quilting project that addresses themes of social and human rights.
It is said that the act of sewing can reduce blood pressure and lower one's heart rate. It offers endless creative possibilities both for the novice and the expert. Transmission of skills and stories is common among quilting circles and sewing bees. In this art form, Taylor has found the perfect medium to stitch community together through creativity.