Wednesday, 20 August 2014

And Still We Rise Quilt Exhibition I

Cynthia H. Catlin The Beginning of Social Justice; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations is an exhibition of contemporary quilts curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi. The quilts were made by members of the Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN), a nonprofit organization founded in 1985 by Dr. Mazloomi to promote inclusivity in African American quilt making. And Still We Rise was organized by the Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

The Beginning of Social Justice (2012) by Cynthia Catlin of San Pedro, California is 35.5 X 35 inches. 
Materials: Hand-dyed cotton fabric, suede, wool batting, metallic thread, rayon thread
Techniques: Machine appliqué, machine quilting, free-motion machine quilting, embroidery
1863: President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that "all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."

Catlin's use of line is astonishing.
Cynthia H. Catlin The Beginning of Social Justice detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The machine quilting is stunning with its complexity. I pity Catlin's neck and shoulders––free-motion machine quilting is not easy on the body.
Sharon Kerry-Harlan United; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
United (2012) by Sharon Kerry-Harlan of Milwaukee, Wisconsin measures 59.5 X 63 inches
Materials: Cotton fabric, cotton batting
Techniques: Discharge dyeing, machine quilting

1909: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded in New York by a group of prominent African American and white intellectuals led by W.E.B. Du Bois.

From my photograph it is difficult to tell whether the quilt is whole cloth or pieced. I suspect that it is pieced, but reads as one cloth. All that pattern works brilliantly with a simple two-colour (discharge) palette. Despite its busyness, the quilt is calm.
Sharon Kerry-Harlan United detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
United has the feel of Kuba cloth.
Valerie C. White Julett Miles at the River's Edge; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Julett Miles at the River's Edge (2008) by Valerie C. White of Denver, Colorado measures 32 X 50 inches.
Materials: Cotton fabric hand-dyed, fabric paint
Techniques: Drawing, hand painting, machine quilting

1858: Kentucky slave Julett Miles tries to escape to freedom by crossing the Ohio River with her five children and four grandchildren. 
Her attempt is discovered and she is sentenced to prison, where she will die in 1860.

I'm guessing that Julett Miles is a whole cloth quilt. White depicts Miles just before she attempts to escape and the tension is palpable. 
Valerie C. White Julett Miles at the River's Edge detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The patterns of the head scarf and dress are delights for the eye.

Why haven't I heard of these quilters before? Have their quilts been featured in Surface Design Journal and the now defunct Fiberarts and I just didn't notice? This work deserves more attention.

And Still We Rise Quilt Exhibition at The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio February 2014
Photos taken with permission.

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