Friday, 22 August 2014

And Still We Rise Quilt Exhibition II

Helen Murrell We Are All Warmed by the Same Sun; 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. 

We Are All Warmed by the Same Sun (2012) by Helen Murrell of Cleveland Heights, Ohio measures 53.5 by 54 inches. 

Materials: Hand-dyed linen, cotton scrim lining, cotton batting; cotton, linen, polyester and silk threads
Techniques: Hand embroidery, thread painting, free-motion machine quilting
1972: The U.S. Public Health Service's infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment, which studied 399 African American men in the late stages of syphilis, ends.

The forty-year study is described by news anchor Harry Reasoner as an undertaking that "used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone."

Once again, I am gobsmacked by the intricacy of the free-motion machine quilting. I hope Murrell had a masseuse on hand to soothe her tired muscles after machine-stitching all those lines. The didactic panel does not indicate whether the fabric was hand-dyed, but I do see evidence of resist-dyeing in the background fabric.
Helen Murrell We Are All Warmed by the Same Sun detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Murrell's hand embroidery is impressive. She has balanced the hand and machine stitching in a pleasing way. Normally machine-stitched lines read as hard and hand-stitched lines read as soft but Murrell has switched this perception around quite brilliantly. The mottled background fabric and the fluid quilted lines probably have something to do with this perceptual switcheroo.
Ife Felix Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed (2012) by Ife Felix of New York, New York measures 49 X 51 inches. 
Materials: Cotton fabric, plastic, cotton string 
Techniques: Machine piecing, machine quilting 

1972: On January 25, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm becomes the first woman to run for the Democratic nomination for president and the first major-party African American candidate for president of the United States.

Felix's graphic quilt of red, whites, blues, and black is a stunner. Chisholm's collar appears to be three-dimensional. Unfortunately, I don't have detail photos to confirm this. Felix has captured Chisholm's power well. I'd vote for her.

Trish Williams And Still I Rise –– A. Philip Randolph; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
And Still I Rise–– A. Philip Randolph (2012) by Trish Williams of Peoria, Illinois measures 51 inches square.
Materials: Hand-dyed cotton fabric, commercial cotton fabric, silk, polyester, fiberglass screen, buttons
Techniques: Machine piecing, machine appliqué, machine quilting

1925: A. Philip Randolph organizes the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first successful African American trade union.

Williams' use of black and white striped fabric drew me to this quilt and I especially like the binding. The upper left panel with the blue sky is the strongest part of the quilt. Williams could have eliminated the right and lower panels and the buttons without watering down the message.
Patricia Montgomery The Scottsboro Boys –– The Arrest; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The Scottsboro Boys––The Arrest (2012) by Patricia Montgomery of Oakland, California measures 65 X 57.5 inches.
Materials: Batik, commercial cotton fabric, pastel, ink, cotton thread, rayon thread
Techniques: Fused collage, machine quilting

1931: Nine African American youths are indicted in Scottsboro, Alabama, on charges of having raped two white women. The jury sentences them to death on slim evidence.

The Supreme Court overturns the jury's convictions twice. Each time, Alabama retries the youths and finds them guilty.

In a third trial, four of the Scottsboro boys are freed, but five are sentenced to long prison terms.

I'm intrigued by Montgomery's use of pastels and ink in this irregularly shaped quilt. The background jungle pattern juxtaposed against prison uniforms conveys the wildness of the criminal justice system. 
Patricia Montgomery The Scottsboro Boys –– The Arrest detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Montgomery's shading with pastels and scribbly machine-quilting is another strong feature of this quilt.

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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