Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Book: Quilting African American Women's History: Our Challenges, Creativity, and Champions
Each of us who has the privilege and the joy of seeing the stunning works in Quilting African American Women's History: Our Challenges, Creativity, and Champions must also listen carefully to what these works of art are saying to us. In the words of quilter Tina Brewer, "Listen closely, focus your eyes deeper." The one hundred-one quilts, created by fifty-three women and men, speak of challenges, creativity, and champions of African American women. For assembling this feast for our eyes and providing a narrative that helps us to clearly hear what these works of art are saying, we are indebted to Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, the curator of the exhibition. Let us also acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Denise Campbell, Dr. Mazloomi's colleague in the world of quilting and scholarship about this art form. A striking reality about these quilts that is also true of African American women is this: If you have seen one, you have not seen them all. There are "common threads" in these quilts, just as there are in Black women's experiences with racial and gender oppression and in resistance, in efforts to cast us as "the other." There is also great diversity in how each artist unfolds her quilt--as a compelling narrative, as a statement of resistance, as creative expression--indeed as all of this and more. So too are there differences in how we Black women live through our race and gender, sometimes in communion with and sometimes in confrontation with our particular class, age, religion, sexual orientation, physical abilities and disabilities.