You see that “painting”? Well, it’s not a painting. It’s a quilt by Dawn Williams Boyd titled “La Croix De Guerre” picturing the Harlem Hellfighters who fought along the French in World War I. The artist carefully chose assorted fabrics with different gray values to look like a painting. The quilt even includes an antique US Army pin and real buttons to embellish it by hand
This was just one of 40 different quilts I got to see in a recent trip to the Bruce Museum with my artist friend Lavinia Wiggins (also pictured above) I loved the delicious irony of visiting an exhibit of African American art on the same day that I planned on boycotting the Oscars. (meaning I just refused to watch it… which truthfully isn’t a huge sacrifice for me since I usually don’t tune into award shows anyway)
Although I don’t know how to quilt, it is not much of a stretch to recognize the relationship between these types of quilts and the collage paintings that I do. In fact, many of the quilters, like Dawn Boyd, are also collage artists.
The Chains that Bind Us
The detail of the quilt above pictures African slaves. Notice the ethnic fabrics used to close the bodies with interlocking shapes and the real chain sewn on connecting them.
In this detail of a quilt by Gwendolyn Aqui-Brooks, I loved the way the artist embedded paper into the quilt. Using my detective skills ( well honed by trying to solve the mysteries of my teenage children) I discovered that the artist must have covered the text with gel medium in order to sew it on to the quilt. (Gel Medium and newsprint were listed as materials)
The full quilt features Frederick Douglas who published an abolitionist paper, the North Star, who was an activist during the Civil War.
Although her quilts ( and pretty much all of the quilts in this exhibition) are in the $10,000 range. you can collect Aqui-Brooks prints.
Ropes that Bind Us
The 3-D fabrication of the roots and ropes fascinated me and yet at the same time narrated the theme of lynchings in America. Not shown, is a hangman’s noose made from the same piping as in the roots and dangles from the tree. This quilt is by Sauha Zahra and depicts the journalist and civil and women rights activist Ida Wells who began a crusade to document and investigate lynchings.
This quilt is about the history- or lack of history – of African Americans being awarded for Oscars. On Sunday night, Will Smith was snubbed an Oscar nomination for his role in Concussion. Not one black actor was nominated for their work in Straight out of Compton, but the white screenwriter was… Moreover, Sylvestor Stallone was nominated for his role in Creed, but not the black title character. Really?
credits: Mammy’s Golden Legacy by Laura Gadson. (@gadsongallery1)
Here is a video I found online interviewing a few of the artists about their work..
Hello! I’m Miriam Schulman and I create mixed media art to tell stories. I also teach other people how to craft their stories with art. I give them the techniques they need to get the results they desire which brings more joy to their lives.
My art has been published by Somerset Studio, Art of Man and the New York Times among others and collected by an international audience. When I’m not working on art in my studio, you’ll find me in a museum spending time with friends or family. Explore my art at SchulmanArt.com or join the fun at TheInspirationPlace.net
Now I want to hear from you. What do you think of these quilts and their stories?
I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.
I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.