Wednesday, 27 August 2014

And Still We Rise Quilt Exhibition III

Dawn Williams Boyd La Croix de Guerre; 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. 

La Croix de Guerre (2010) by Dawn Williams Boyd of Atlanta, Georgia measures 70 by 47 inches. 
Materials: Assorted fabric, silk ribbon, found objects
Techniques: Machine piecing, appliqué, hand embroidery, hand embellishment

1918: The United States Army organizes two African American divisions, the 92nd and the 93rd, through which some forty thousand African American soldiers see combat. General John J. Pershing gives to the 16th Division of the French Army the troops of the 93rd Division, including the 369th Infantry Regiment, the "Harlem Hellfighters," under the command of Colonel William Hayward.

The Harlem Hellfighters fight at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood. They spend 191 days in combat, longer than any other American unit in the war, during which they neither surrender an inch of Allied territory nor lose a soldier to capture. The French government awards the entire regiment, plus 171 men and officers individually, either the Croix de Guerre or the Legion of Merit for their courage and valour.

No African American soldier will receive a World War I Congressional Medal of Honor, America's highest award for military heroism.

Boyd's La Croix de Guerre makes a memorable impression. The quilt is a complex, yet coherent, mix of fabrics and techniques. I don't know how Boyd does it: in lesser hands the combination would look like a mish-mash. The quilt is calm with its warm monochromatic colour scheme and has the feel of a sepia-toned photograph.
Dawn Williams Boyd La Croix de Guerre detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Since I saw this quilt in February, I've been thinking of the hand embroidered stars. Do you see what I mean?
Dawn Williams Boyd La Croix de Guerre detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Unlike most of the quilts that I've shared in the previous two posts, the machine quilting is not a prominent feature. Although I admire the phenomenal free-motion quilting of the other quilts, I'm pleased to see the hand embroidery come to the fore in Boyd's La Croix de Guerre. All of these patterns shouldn't work together, but they do with Boyd's careful arrangement.
Dawn Williams Boyd La Croix de Guerre detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
This detail highlights the graphic facial features, the hat... and another view of the stars.
Dawn Williams Boyd La Croix de Guerre detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Normally I'm not a fan of silk ribbon, but it works in this quilt. The stripy piecing with the mattress ticking fabric could be a quilt on its own. Take a close look at the hand embroidered leaves. La Croix de Guerre inspires me on many levels. It's a quilt that I will study closely and learn from.

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

1 comment:

Judy Martin said...

This is a stunning quilt. Thanks for showing those stars!!

Thank you Karen for sharing your experience with this exhibition.