Myla Borden

Myla Borden turned to quiltmaking when she was unable to find employment after earning her teaching degree from Nova Scotia Teachers College and her Aunt Frances Dorrington, a long time quiltmaker, encouraged her to take up quiltmaking as hobby.

Myla Borden


Borden was quickly consumed by the craft and it became a true passion that helped her get through this difficult period of her life.  In 1994, Borden joined the Northumberland Quilting Guild based in Stellarton, NS along with her mother Marlene Dorrington, to help develop her interest in quiltmaking and learn new techniques.  She became a staunch member of the Northumberland Guild and would later serve two terms as Guild president (2004-2005).

In 1998 Borden was approached by artist, and curator David Woods to create a picture quilt for In This Place- the first ever exhibition of African Nova Scotian art that was being organized by the Black Artists Network of Nova Scotia at the time.  Woods saw quiltmaking as the artform that African Nova Scotian women had embraced for over two centuries and wanted quilts to have an equal place in the exhibition as paintings. He felt Borden had the sensibilities to create an original quilt that could capture this more deliberately artistic vision of the quilt. 

In response to this request, Borden created Passages- an original quilt, design that depicted the journey of Africans from continental Africa,  through the period slavery in America then ending with freedom in Canada.  Passages used appliquéd human figures and scenes, ‘African nationalist colours’ (black, green and red), and African fabric patterns for the quilt borders.  Passages were one of the ‘hit’ art pieces of the In This Place exhibition and were later exhibited at the Museum of Textile in Toronto (1999).  The experience opened Borden to the idea of creating quilts that represented her African Canadian heritage. 

In 2007, Borden became a founding member of the Vale Quilters Association- a group of quiltmakers interested in learning about Africentric North American quiltmaking traditions as well as revitalizing the quiltmaking craft among Pictou County’s African Nova Scotian community.  In 2007 she also began collaborating with David Woods, using Woods’ drawings and paintings to design new quilts.

Based on his collaboartions with Borden, Woods later dveloped The Secret Codes Quilt Project, an exhibition project inviting African Nova Scotian quiltmakers from across the province to create  original quilts based on a new series of drawings. Woods created the drawings during his travels to 30 African Nova Scotian communities across the province.  The drawings captured life stories of community women and local community histories and employed quilt design aesthetics in their execution.  So far Borden has created six quilts for the Secret Codes project all of which were featured in various exhibition showings.


Besides her work with Woods, Borden has presents quiltmaking talks and workshops with the Vale Quilters in communities across the province.  Her quilts have been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Atlantic Textile Festival, Quilt Canada National Conference, Museum of Industry and the Museum of Textile in Toronto.  Borden is married and has two daughters.  She is currently a Grade7 school teacher at New Glasgow Jr. High School, New Glasgow, NS.

Artist Statement

Quiltmaking has opened up a new world for me. What I have discovered in these pieces of stitched cloth patterns that I have been creating is that I am able to communicate many different worlds to the viewer: the traditions of quiltmaking, my African Nova Scotian heritage, and my perspective as a woman.  I also use the time making quilts to create bonds with my mother Marlene and women from my community.  Through the act of making quilts, we have created a true communion of spirits.



2019 Paintings and Quilts – Chase Gallery, Public Archives of NS (BANNS)
2019 Paintings and Quilts (Kaiso) – Caribbean Nova Scotian Artists
2017 Paintings and Quilts – Caribbean Cultural Festival, HalifaxCommons (BANNS)
2015 New Notes in The Pattern – Chase Gallery, Public Archives of NS (BANNS)
2015 The Secret Codes: Contemporary African Nova Scotian Narrative and Picture Quilts – Museum of Industry, Stellarton
2014 The Secret Codes: Contemporary African Nova Scotian Narrative and Picture Quilts – UNB Arts Centre, Fredericton, NB
2013 The Secret Codes: Contemporary African Nova Scotian Narrative and Picture Quilts – Snider Gallery, Nova Scotia Community College Waterfront Campus, Dartmouth  (BANNS)
2013 The Secret Codes: Contemporary African Nova Scotian Narrative and Picture Quilts – Art Gallery St FX University, Antigonish
2012 The Secret Codes: Contemporary African Nova Scotian Narrative and Picture Quilts – Chase Gallery, Nova Scotia Public Archives (BANNS)
2012 It Takes A Village – African Nova Scotian Art and Culture Exhibition – World Trade And Convention Ctr, Hfx. (BANNS)
2011 African Nova Scotian Quilts – Highland Square Mall, New Glasgow  (BANNS)
2010 In This Place 11 – NSCC Truro Campus Art Gallery, Truro (BANNS)
2009 Learning To Fly – Mayflower Centre, Truro  (BANNS)
2007 Our Ancestor’s Garden – Museum of Industry, Stellarton (BANNS)
2007 Our Ancestor’s Garden – Birchtown Community Ctr, Shelburne (BANNS)
2007 Our Ancestor’s Garden – Weymouth Falls Community Ctr, Weymouth Falls (BANNS)
2007 Our Ancestor’s Garden – North Preston Recreation Ctr, Dartmouth (BANNS)
2007 Our Ancestor’s Garden – Halifax North Branch Library, Hfx (BANNS)
2002 When Black Women Useta Fly – Dartmouth Heritage Museum, Dartmouth (BANNS)
2001 Home: Art Of Preston – Dartmouth Heritage Museum, Dartmouth (BANNS)
2000 Home: Art Of Preston – Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax
1998 In This Place – Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax (BANNS)
1998 In This Place – Museum of Industry, Stellarton (BANNS)
1998 In This Place – Shelburne County Museum, Shelburne (BANNS)
1998 In This Place – Cape Breton Art Gallery, Sydney (BANNS)


New Glasgow, NS