Opening Tuesday, September 15 at Textile Center: Gone but Never Forgotten: Remembering Those Lost to Police Brutality

We Are the Story

A multi-site initiative of quilt exhibitions curated by Carolyn Mazloomi, and presented by Textile Center & Women of Color Quilters Network

Barbara Eady, “Black Lives Matter” – WCQN exhibit “We Who Believe in Freedom”

September 2, 2020 update:

Textile Center and Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN) announce extended schedule for We Are the Story, seven quilt exhibitions curated by Carolyn MazloomiSeptember 10, 2020 through June 12, 2021 

Group and solo exhibitions will build upon symbols of liberation, resistance and empowerment, offering a visually compelling account of the breadth of experiences and struggles that comprise Black history in an honest and critical way

When Minneapolis became the epicenter of the nationwide protest movement against police brutality and racism in America following the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, Textile Center and Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN) joined forces to create We Are the Storya multi-venue initiative in the Twin Cities, September 10, 2020, through June 12, 2021.  

Under the curatorial direction of Carolyn Mazloomi, WCQN founder and member of Textile Center’s National Artist Advisory CouncilWe Are the Story opens in September with exhibitions at Textile Center and the American Swedish Institute.  

Penny Mateer, “George Floyd”

Due to challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Textile Center is extending the previously announced timeline for We Are the Story into June 2021, which will ensure that the quilts can be seen in person by as many people as possible in safe, socially distanced environments. Extending the timeline also allows the exhibition of quilts to coincide with the observation of the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.  

Two juried exhibitions– Gone but Never Forgotten: Remembering Those Lost to Police Brutality and Racism: In the Face of Hate We Resist– serve as a centerpiece for We Are the StoryGiven the urgency of these issues in America, quilters from around the nation worked under an extremely tight creative timelineThe calls were open in mid-June to all artists regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, race, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity in mid-Juneand 423 quilts were submitted by the July 31 deadline. Mazloomi selected 89 quilts for the two exhibitions. Today, Textile Center and WCQN announce the quilts selected for these exhibitions below. 

As part of We Are the Story, the American Swedish Institute will present the Minnesota premiere of WCQN’s We Who Believe in Freedom September 10 through November 1, 2020. Assembled in 2016 to honor the 55th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, We Who Believe in Freedom represents works by members of WCQN that tell the story of the African American Experience. 

We Are the Story also includes four solo exhibitionsI Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free (Quilts by Dorothy Burge, Chicago, IL) will be presented at Textile Center September 29 through December 24, 2020. The venues and dates for the following three venues will be announced soon:  Sacred Invocations (Quilts by Sylvia Hernandez, Brooklyn, NY); The Protest Series (Quilts by Penny Mateer, Pittsburgh, PA); and Freedom Rising:  I Am the Story (Quilts by L’Merchie Frazier, Boston, MA.) 

Carolyn Mazloomi

Select quilts will also be presented with community partners later this winter and spring including the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art MuseumDivision of Indian Work in South Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center in North Minneapolis, Homewood Studios in North Minneapolis, Studio 106 in Burnsville, and St. Catherine University’s Apparel, Merchandising and Design Gallery 

A series of Zoom talks, including We Are the Story: Let’s Talk about Race presented by Textile Center, WCQN and Friends, will be announced soon. These Zoom presentations will focus on issues of police brutality, racism, and inequities in America in support of Black Lives Matter, as well as introduce the more than 100 quilters featured in these exhibitions. The Zoom talks will be open to the public. 

WE ARE THE STORCALENDAR OF SCHEDULED EXHIBITIONS

All seven exhibitions will also be presented virtually on the websites of Textile Center & WCQN. All exhibitions will be free and open to the public, but appointments may be required at venues due to the COVID pandemic. 

Gone but Never Forgotten: Remembering Those Lost to Police Brutality

Textile Center, Joan Mondale Gallery 
September 15 through December 24, 2020 

Gone but Never Forgotten: Remembering Those Lost to Police Brutality is a national juried exhibition showcasing 26 quilts that honor those whose lives were violently ended due to police negligence and brutality and critiques the targeting and criminalization of Black bodies throughout history. 

 

Racism: In the Face of Hate We Resist

Textile Center, Joan Mondale Gallery, Mary Giles Gallery, Community Gallery 
March 26 through June 12, 2021 

An international juried exhibition featuring 63 quiltsRacism: In the Face of Hate We Resist builds on these narratives by sharing the stories of resistance and fortitude that have been integral to the survival of Black people in America. During this time, quilts from the other We Are the Story exhibitions are intended to be exhibited at  venues to be determined as part of a community-wide outreach initiative, providing an opportunity for our community to have one last comprehensive viewing as our community observes the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death.  

 

We Who Believe in Freedom (Quilts by members of WCQN)

American Swedish Institute, Osher Gallery 
September 10 through November 1, 2020 

We Who Believe in Freedom was first presented in 2016 to honor the 55th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, and it represents works by members of WCQN that tell the story of the African American Experience. This exhibition is free to the public — click here to get your free ticket to visit this exhibition. Select “We Are the Story – Registration.”

 

I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free (Quilts by Dorothy Burge, Chicago, IL) 

Textile Center, Community Gallery
September 29 through December 24, 2020 

Dorothy Burge, a member of WCQN, is a multimedia artist and community activist who is inspired by both historic and current social justice issues. She is one of the strongest voices in Chicago for police accountability and reparations for survivors of police torture. Dorothy will be a featured guest in our Zoom Let’s Talk About Race conversations.  

The Protest Series (Quilts by Penny Mateer, Pittsburgh, PA) 

Details to be announced

Penny Mateer, artist/activist, works with textiles and recycled materials. Her art is rooted in quilting and embroidery, traditionally thought of as “women’s work.” Drawing from this rich history of creating functional objects intended to provide warmth and comfort, she chooses fabric as her primary material to establish connection through shared experience and spark discussion around current events. Her social practice centers on a community-made public art project to promote voting. 

 

Freedom Rising: I Am the Story (Quilts by L’Merchie Frazier, Boston, MA) 

Details to be announced

L’Merchie Frazier, a public fiber artist, quilter, historian, innovator, poet and holographer, has served the artistic community for more than 25 years nationally and internationally with visual and performance art residencies in Boston, Brazil, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Africa, France, and Cuba.  A public lecturer and community workshop presenter, her spatial and social justice artistic work activates youth and adults in a co-design model that reflects the participants as creative actors and their occupancy in democratizing the socio-economic political landscape.  

 

Sacred Invocations (Quilts by Sylvia Hernandez, Brooklyn, NY) 

Details to be announced

Sylvia Hernandez is a celebrated and self-taught master quilter, and she creates timeless, handcrafted works that address community and human right issues. Sylvia is currently the president of the Quilters of Color Network of NYC, co-president of the Brooklyn Quilters Guild, and she is a member of the WCQN. She teaches at El Puente Academy of Peace and Justice, MS 50 and has worked with AgitArte, a social justice group that has led community educational and art programs in marginalized communities in Puerto Rico and locally. 

WE ARE THE STORY EVENTS

We Are the Story: Let’s Talk about RaceA community event sponsored by Textile Center, WCQN and Friends to help educate the public on police brutality, racism, and inequities in America in support of Black Lives Matter. Details to come.

ABOUT THE WOMEN OF COLOR QUILTERS NETWORK (WCQN) 

For African American women quilts have always been at the core of artistic expression, taking form in the social, economic, and spiritual lives of the women who make them. Founded by Carolyn Mazloomi in 1985, WCQN is a non-profit national organization whose mission is to educate, preserve, exhibit, promote and document quilts made by African Americans. WCQN showcases the work of its members through critically acclaimed traveling exhibitions that tour museums throughout the United States, including the Smithsonian. WCQN has exhibited quilts in Japan, England, South African, Italy and Australia as part of art programs sponsored by the United States Department of State. For more information, visit: wcqn.org. 

ABOUT CAROLYN MAZLOOMI

Historian, curator, author, lecturer, artist, mentor, founder, and facilitator — the remarkable and tireless Carolyn Mazloomi has left her mark on many lives. Trained as an aerospace engineer, she turned her sites and tireless efforts in the 1980s to bring the many unrecognized contributions of African American quilt artists to the attention of the American people as well as the international art communities. From the founding of the African-American Quilt Guild of Los Angles in 1981 to the 1985 founding of the WCQN, Carolyn has been at the forefront of educating the public about the diversity of interpretation, styles and techniques among African American quilters as well as educating a younger generation of African Americans about their own history through the quilts the WCQN members create.  

A major force as an artist in her own right, Carolyn’s quilts can be found in private collections around the world as well in distinguished museum collections in the United States. To date she has published 12 books highlighting African American-made quilts. Her artistic work, as well as her defense of solid research, has disrupted long-standing myths about African American quilts, myths much debated among quilt historians and quilters alike, and thus moved the conversation about African American quilt history forward to more a solid academic footing. For more information, visit: carolynmazloomi.com. 

ABOUT DOROTHY BURGE 

Dorothy Burge, a member of WCQN, is a multimedia artist and community activist who is inspired by both historic and current social justice issues. She is one of the strongest voices in Chicago for police accountability and reparations for survivors of police torture. She amplifies the voices of survivors of police torture and of activists in the movement and was instrumental in designing curriculum for Chicago Public Schools to expose students to the problem of police violence. As part of a collective leadership model, she and others successfully advocated for the grandchildren of torture survivors to be recipients of free tuition at Chicago community colleges in addition to meticulously working out the forms of redress in the reparations package.

ABOUT L’MERCHIE FRAZIER 

L’Merchie Frazier, a public fiber artist, quilter, historian, innovator, poet and holographer, has served the artistic community for more than 25 years nationally and internationally with visual and performance art residencies in Boston, Brazil, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Africa, France, and Cuba.  A public lecturer and community workshop presenter, her spatial and social justice artistic work activates youth and adults in a co-design model that reflects the participants as creative actors and their occupancy in democratizing the socio-economic political landscape. L’Merchie is a quilting member of WCQN.  Currently she is Director of Creative Engagement of Transformative Action Project/Violence Transformed for the Public Health Advocacy Institute initiative at Northeastern University. 

ABOUT SYLVIA HERNANDEZ 

Sylvia Hernandez is a celebrated and self-taught master quilter, and she creates timeless, handcrafted works that address community and human right issues. Sylvia is currently the president of the Quilters of Color Network of NYC, co-president of the Brooklyn Quilters Guild, and she is a member of the WCQNShe teaches at El Puente Academy of Peace and Justice, MS 50 and has worked with AgitArte, a social justice group that has led community educational and art programs in marginalized communities in Puerto Rico and locally. She works out of her home studio in Brooklyn, NY, where she currently resides with her husband Miguel. 

ABOUT PENNY MATEER 

Penny Mateer, artist/activist, works with textiles and recycled materials. Her art is rooted in quilting and embroidery, traditionally thought of as “women’s work.” Drawing from this rich history of creating functional objects intended to provide warmth and comfort, she chooses fabric as her primary material to establish connection through shared experience and spark discussion around current events. Her social practice centers on a community-made public art project to promote voting. Mateer lives in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information, visit: pennymateer.com. 

ABOUT TEXTILE CENTER 

Textile Center is unique as America’s national center for fiber art, with a mission to honor textile traditions, promote excellence and innovation, and inspire widespread participation in fiber arts. The Center’s resources include exceptional fiber art exhibitions, an artisan shop, a professional-grade dye lab, a natural dye plant garden, and one of the nation’s largest circulating textile libraries open to the public. Textile Center produces more than 200 classes a year for all ages and skill levels through its youth, adult, older adult, and outreach programs. A dynamic hub of fiber activity for 25 years, Textile Center brings people together in community to learn, create, share, and be inspired by fiber art. textilecentermn.org. 

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