We Are the Story initiative culminates with Racism: In the Face of Hate We Resist,
an exhibition of 63 art quilts at Textile Center in Minneapolis, as well as the upcoming release of the book We Are the Story: A Visual Response to Racism

(Minneapolis, MN) – We Are the Story is now entering its final phase in the Twin Cities with the seventh and final quilt exhibition Racism: In the Face of Hate We Resist at Textile Center. This juried show, featuring 63 quilts, opened March 26 and runs through June 12, 2021. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Make your appointment reservation here.

Racism: In the Face of Hate We Resist is the second of two juried exhibitions presented at Textile Center in partnership with Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN). The first juried show, Gone but Never Forgotten: Remembering Those Lost to Police Brutality, was on view at Textile Center September 15 through December 24, 2020, and most recently at Lanesboro Arts in Lanesboro, Minn., February 13 through April 1, 2021. This exhibition will now be presented at Studio 106, in Burnsville, Minn., by appointment May 18 through June 12, 2021. Reservations can be made through the Textile Center website here.

Textile Center is pleased to announce that it is partnering with Paper Moon Publishing to release We Are the Story: A Visual Response to Racism by Carolyn Mazloomi, the curator for We Are the Story. The target release date for this 200-plus page book is May 19, 2021, when more than 40 quilters from around the nation will participate in a three-day national convening of exhibition artists and friends in Minneapolis to view the exhibitions. Pre-orders for the book are now being accepted through Textile Center’s online Shop and will be available in Textile Center’s in-person Shop beginning May 19. The retail price is $43.21 (including applicable tax).

As part of the national convening of quilters in Minneapolis, Textile Center and WCQN will present a culminating event titled We Are the Story: A Visual Response to Racism from 4 to 5:30 pm (CDT) Thursday, May 20, 2021. This event will mark the release of the new book and feature curator Carolyn Mazloomi in conversation with select visiting artists. The event will be live streamed from Textile Center via Zoom. To register for this free Zoom event, click here.

During the convening of the national artists, Textile Center will also reprise the the solo exhibitions I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free / Quilts by Dorothy Burge (Chicago), and Sacred Invocations / Quilts by Sylvia Hernandez (Brooklyn) for public viewing in its auditorium from Tuesday, May 18, through Saturday, May 22, 2021.

Curator Carolyn L. Mazloomi

The other two solo exhibitions that are part of We Are the Story are currently on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) and the Weisman Art Museum (WAM). Freedom Rising: I Am the Story / Quilts by L’Merchie Frazier (Boston) is on view at Mia through September 19, 2021.  We Are the Story: The Protest Series / Quilts by Penny Mateer (Pittsburgh) is being presented at WAM through May 23, 2021. Advanced reservations are required at Mia through its website, artsmia.org, and WAM is open to the public at 25% capacity (no reservation required).

The third group exhibition in We Are the Story was WCQN’s We Who Believe in Freedom, which received its Minnesota premiere at the American Swedish Institute September 10 through November 1, 2020. Virtual exhibitions for all We Are the Story exhibitions are available on our website here, as well as archived conversations from the We Are the Story: Let’s Talk About Race series via Zoom.

VIRTUAL EXHIBITIONS:

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. 

We Who Believe in Freedom / Quilts by WCQN members

American Swedish Institute, Osher Gallery 
September 10 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: Quilt Exhibition”

 

Gone but Never Forgotten: Remembering Those Lost to Police Brutality

Lanesboro Arts, February 13 April 1, 2021 • Selection of 21 quilts.

Premiere: Textile Center, Joan Mondale Gallery, September 15 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. 

 

I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free / Dorothy Burge

Textile Center, Community Gallery
September 29  December 24, 2020 

From artist Dorothy Burge: “I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free is a series of social justice art quilts that document and raise awareness on systemic criminal justice issues that restrict the lives of African Americans in this country. All people, regardless of race, religion, age, ability, gender, income, or sexual orientation are entitled to freedom.”

 

We Are the Story: The Protest Series / Penny Mateer

Weisman Art Museum
October 15 – May 23, 2021

From artist Penny Mateer: “The Protest Series grew out of my love of protest music released in the 1960s and 70s – music that inspired people to think, question, and take action. After we entered into war with Iraq, I began to think about what have we learned as a country since Vietnam. Does history repeat itself? Do we need to revisit it? Over time, I’ve expanded into economic and social justice issues. I choose a popular traditional quilt block and pair it with a topic. I challenge myself to find commercial fabric relative to that topic in order to create a roadmap of symbols that prompt the viewer to think about the theme of the work.”

Freedom Rising: I Am the Story / L’Merchie Frazier

Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia)
January 28 – September 19, 2021

From artist L’Merchie Frazier: “Black and Indigenous people have a shared history of over 500 years in unwritten, unrecognized, and unacknowledged narrative about the spaces that they occupy physically, mentally, and spiritually. Freedom Rising: I Am the Story exhibition features selected moments that confront racism and the relationship dynamics of ownership, becoming property-less, of being deemed property, and the question of belonging.

 

Sacred Invocations / Sylvia Hernandez

Textile Center, Community Gallery
January 12 – March 13, 2021

From artist Sylvia Hernandez: “I create story quilts to continue to pass the story on to others. These quilts are created in my heart and soul before I make them visible. There are so many hateful, hurtful, and heartbreaking things happening in the world that I feel a need to make pieces that might show them in a beautiful, heartfelt way to take some of the ugliness away for a minute. I pray for a time that I might make only happy quilts.”

 

Racism: In the Face of Hate We Resist

Textile Center, Joan Mondale Gallery, Mary Giles Gallery, Community Gallery 
March 26 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 ARE THE STORY EVENTS

COMING UP:

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Let’s Talk About Race: Sacred Invocations – A Conversation with Sylvia Hernández and Michelle Flamer

Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Hosted by Textile Center, artist Sylvia Hernández joined Michelle Flamer for a discussion on race and Hernández’s exhibition, which can be viewed virtually here.

Let’s Talk About Race: I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free – A Conversation with Carolyn Mazloomi and Dorothy Burge

Tuesday, November 17, 2020. Hosted by Textile Center, artist Dorothy Burge joined curator Carolyn Mazloomi for a discussion on race and Burge’s exhibition, which can be viewed virtually here.

Weisman Art Museum (WAM) virtual conversation with with curator Carolyn Mazloomi and artist Penny Mateer

Wednesday, January 27, 2021. Penny Mateer’s work is currently installed at WAM through March 14, 2021. View the exhibition online here.

We Are the Story Zoom Discussion with Quilt Alliance

Wednesday, Sept 30, 2020. Textile Center Executive Director Karl Reichert and curator Carolyn Mazloomi joined the Quilt Alliance for a panel discussion, moderated by artist Michelle Flamer.

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. 

We invite you to share your thoughts on the We Are the Story initiative and exhibitions in the virtual guest book here!

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