Thursday, October 17, 2013

Visiting Cincy or How I learned to love Cincinnati

October 11th was the beginning of a love fest for African American quilters  who came from across the nation and beyond as the opening festivities began for the latest exhibition of the Women of Color Quilters Network or WCQN.  Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi put out the call over a year ago for artists to take a person or event in African American history and bring it to life.  It was a delight to see the various ways artists presented stories about our history from the middle passage to today.  Of equal importance was the opportunity for quilters to meet, embrace and celebrate getting to know each other better.

Elk Grove, California artist Connie Horne has work at the beginning of the exhibit that presents 1775: George Washington Welcomes the Services of Slaves and Free Blacks in the Army.  Connie and I have know each other for several years and she makes beautiful quilts and award winning wearable art.  She has two pieces in the exhibit.

This piece takes place in 1968 when Lyndon Johnson Signs the Civil Rights Act.  You can view other works by Connie Horne at the link below:
Connie Horne website

Meeting new quilters and friends was an exciting part of the trip.  Barbara Cooper told me that she is a recent quilter and boy is she good.  I loved her story about dying the background fabric of this piece and saying she thought it was ugly.  Now we know it takes talent to transform something you think is ugly into a thing of power and inspiration.
Carole Richburg Brown stands by her quilt, Nat Turner Crusader for Freedom.  In addition to the hand dyed background she also painted the leaves of color and enriched his clothing with paint.  I am so happy to have met Carole and hope we meet again and we explore ways to transform cloth.

This is a link to more information about Carole and her award winning quilts.

Carole Brown and SAQA Award Winning Quilt

Unfortunately for me I did not write down the name of the piece next to Carole.  I will be trying to track that down for a future post.

An additional  point for excitement about the exhibit is the lesser known stories that we learned about. Artist, Harriette Alford Meriwether introduced me to her work,  Mary Peake:  First Colored Teacher.  Ms. Peake taught classes to black children under an Oak tree that is still in existence on the campus of Hampton University.

There most certainly were men quilters in the exhibit and I had the good fortune to meet Julius Bremer who created me warmly and told me the story of attending the same school as Jesse Owens.  What a role model he must have been for him as a youngster.

What a beautiful smile and wonderful quilt.  Julius brought a group of fellow quilters with him from his hometown in Cleveland.  See this link for additional information about him and his work.  Thanks Julius for letting me use this great photo.
Julius Bremer in Cleveland Plain Dealer

Right next to Julius work is the first of  Patricia Montgomery's quilts, the Scottsboro Boys-the Arrest

Patricia's second quilt is A Tribute to the Storyteller, Alex Haley

Patricia, friend and fellow Californian,  has recently been awarded a Creative Workfund grant to create new work. You can learn more her and her art at this link.

Patricia Montgomery Website

There was nothing like meeting old friends although you have never met in person..  Fellow fiber artist, public artist and wearable designer Trish Williams and I were sisters waiting to hug.  She, fellow traveler, Pat and I enjoyed the quilts, dined and explored the Ohio River waterfront.  We explored new ground together.

This is And Still I Rise: A. Phillip Randolph, the organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

More information about Trish can be found at this link.

See you next time and if you are in Cincinnati please stop by to see And Still We Rise: Race Culture and Visual Conversations - 400 Years of African American History in Quilts  at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, now through March 29, 2014

This is a link to the Freedom Center

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