Culture and textiles go hand in hand, and both are subjects close to my heart. In light of George Floyd and everything that has happened over the past few days, I wanted to share these amazing story quilts by African American artists.
My mother is an avid quilter, and through her I have learned about the importance of a finished (or unfinished quilt). Some quilts are decorative, indicating the pleasures and joys of a simple pass-time. Some are strong political and historical statements seen through the eyes of the artist. Some have short lives while others get passed down as heirlooms, and many like these hang in museums as pieces of history. I hope you enjoy these amazing pieces..
A story teller and feminist activist, Faith Ringgold's narrative quilts center around civil rights, politics and African American life in the United States. Ringgold has received more than 75 awards, fellowships and citations as well as 17 honorary doctorates and honors.
From the American Folk Art Museum:
This is one of several freedom quilts that Jessie Telfair made as a response to losing her job after she attempted to register to vote. It evokes the civil rights era through the powerful invocation of one word, “freedom,” formed from bold block letters along a horizontal axis. Mimicking the stripes of the American flag, it is unclear whether the use of red, white, and blue is ironic or patriotic, or both.
Known as the mother of African-American quilting, Harriet Powers was born into slavery in Georgia. At the urging of her husband, Powers sold the Biblical quilt for just five dollars. It now hangs in the Smithsonian in Boston.