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Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins and Holly Johnson of the Adams County CVB

Ohio Arts Council Honored with Scenic Ohio Award for Quilt Barn Project

The quilt barn movement, launched in Adams County, Ohio, by Donna Sue Groves in 2001, has since expanded to 48 states and two provinces. Photo courtesy of Pieced Together.Last month, the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) received an award celebrating the patchwork of painted barns that make up the Adams County Clotheslines of Quilts.

Created by Donna Sue Groves, who formerly served as the OAC’s Southern Ohio field representative, the Adams County Clotheslines of Quilts project was launched in 2001. Started as a way to honor Groves’ mother, Nina Maxine Groves, who was an avid quilter, these barn quilt squares spurred a national movement, eventually expanding to not just the rest of Ohio, but to 48 states and two provinces.

On Nov. 16, Donna Sue’s work, for which the OAC served as a funder and partner, was honored by Scenic Ohio, a not-for-profit organization “dedicated to protecting and enhancing the visual quality and scenic character of Ohio’s towns and countryside,” according to its website. Its annual event, the Scenic Ohio Awards Ceremony, honors individuals, agencies, and organizations who have worked to conserve and preserve Ohio’s scenic resources.

The 2018 awards focused specifically on groups and organizations that promote tourism throughout the state through the preservation of Ohio farms.

The Adams County Clotheslines of Quilts project was honored with an award from Scenic Ohio in November 2018. Photo by Donna S. Collins.“The Ohio Arts Council has been a great catalyst for visual arts in Ohio. Donna Sue Groves' vision of honoring the art of quilting is an inspirational story that has inspired the creation of hundreds of quilt barn art paintings beginning in Adams County. More than half of Ohio's counties now have quilt barns, a testament to the public's respect of this ‘art of Americana,’” said Gary W. Meisner, who serves as chairman of Scenic Ohio. “Quilt barns are a key element of Ohio's scenic corridors and over time will contribute to our growing heritage tourism. The OAC has helped to inspire this beautiful addition to the Ohio landscape and is honored for assisting Donna Sue with her vision." 

OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins accepted the award on behalf of the agency and Donna Sue.

“We are thrilled to receive the 2018 Scenic Ohio Award,” Collins said. “We continue to discover the cultural significance and heritage of the Appalachian region and the traditions of quilting as it relates to family, community, and the arts.”

As part of its support of the project, the OAC commissioned a study from Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs titled: “Ohio Arts Council Quilt Barn Impact Study: Understanding the Value of the Ohio Quilt Barn Trail.” The study detailed the impact the quilt barns have had on communities across the nation.

“The quilt barns are a beautiful blend of rural landscapes, quilting, and visual art. The quilt square designs are often unique to the property where they’ve been created—a design that embodies the farm’s original purpose, family history, or is a design loved by the barn’s owner,” Collins said. “A small act of love by Donna Sue turned into a lucrative arts and culture experience going from county-to-county in Ohio and crossing state lines.”

Nina Maxine Groves (left) and Donna Sue Groves stand in front of the quilt square displayed on their barn. Photo courtesy of Pieced Together.The history and expansion of the quilt barn movement, as well as Donna Sue’s personal story, was highlighted in the 2016 documentary film “Pieced Together” directed by Julianne Donofrio.

In a media release announcing the documentary’s premiere, Donna Sue reflected on the friendship and support she has received from quilt trail organizers across the country who came together to raise funds to assist her in her battle against breast cancer.

“I guarantee you that had it not been for the quilt trail community, I would not be here today,” she said in the release.

To Collins, it’s no surprise that the quilt barn project has had such a wide-reaching impact because empowering a passionate community is what Donna Sue does best.

“Donna Sue Groves is a visionary. She sees the potential in people and places and works hard to make dreams a reality,” Collins said. “No matter the health scare, no matter the obstacle, Donna Sue is a fighter and a winner. She was honored as a winner of Ohio’s Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio, and in her acceptance speech, she was a humble advocate for Appalachia. If all of us had Donna Sue’s heart and intellect, we would be unstoppable.”

To learn more about Donna Sue Groves and the quilt barn movement, visit

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist
Featured photo: Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins and Holly Johnson of the Adams County CVB received the 2018 Scenic Ohio award on behalf of the OAC and Donna Sue Groves in November. (Photo courtesy of Donna S. Collins)

Video by Pieced Together Documentary

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