Quilt Museum showcases Smithsonian textile artist’s collection

· 3 min read

Quilt Museum showcases Smithsonian textile artist’s collection

“Uncovering Black History: Quilts from the Collection of Carolyn Mazloomi”
“Uncovering Black History: Quilts from the Collection of Carolyn Mazloomi”

“Uncovering Black History: Quilts from the Collection of Carolyn Mazloomi” is showing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s International Quilt Museum.

Collector, scholar and maker Carolyn Mazloomi 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. In an exhibition of her collection at the International Quilt Museum, the featured artists present a variety of Black experiences, some celebrating the achievements of artists, poets and adventurers, and others protesting the pervasive and harmful racism directed towards people of color in American society.

Quilts by Black quiltmakers always existed within the greater canon of American quiltmaking as it developed in the 19th and 20th century. Quilts, especially those with a narrative element, have long been a particularly vital tool that Black quiltmakers use to illustrate black history. Today, Black quiltmakers continue that tradition.

“[Their quilts function] by voicing in cloth … the struggles and triumphs of a marginalized people,” Mazloomi said. The quilts act as a means to educate citizens about “important segments of our complex, authentic, national history.”

Mazloomi sought work by artists with powerful voices as she built her collection, like Michael A. Cummings, Sharon Kerry-Harlan and Chawne Kimber, all of whom are artists featured in the IQM collection. Quilts featured in the Von Seggern Gallery will focus on the Civil Rights movement, and the artists within the gallery portray the sacrifices that individuals like Martin Luther King Jr., and Congressman John Lewis made while struggling against unfounded prejudice and hate. In the Gottsch Gallery, the quilts featured portray the human cost of racism that Black Americans experience to this day.

“Hundreds of years from now people will be looking at the quilts made today. They [will] get a glimpse into the timbre of the times, what was happening in our country, our families, our communities, our churches and with the individual quilter,” Mazloomi said. “The viewer sees this history from our perspective, directly…hearing in our voice all these transgressions that have happened to us, and our hopes for the future without racism.”

“Uncovering Black History: Quilts from the Collection of Carolyn Mazloomi” will be on view through March 25. Mazloomi will be lecturing on her civil rights advocacy and her collection at 5:30 Nov. 4. in the International Quilt Museum. Admission for the event is free and open to the public.

The International Quilt Museum, located on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s East Campus at 33rd and Holdrege, is dedicated to building a global collection and audience that celebrates the cultural and artistic significance of quilts. Learn more information.

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