GREENWICH, Conn. -- With race relations in the United States at one of its most pivotal intersections in the past 50 years, an upcoming exhibit at Bruce Museum in Greenwich provides a terrific opportunity to promote understanding and harmony.
“And Still We Rise: Race, Culture, and Visual Conversations” uses the powerful medium of story quilts to narrate nearly four centuries of African American history. The exhibit opens on Saturday, Jan. 16.
The 40 quilts were curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, a former aerospace engineer who turned her focus to bring the unrecognized contributions of African American quilt artists to the attention of national and international art communities.
“As an artist, I strong believe art has the capacity to touch the spirit, engage, educate, and heal in ways that words alone cannot,’’ Mazloomi wrote on her website .
The exhibit narrates nearly four centuries of African American history, from the first slave ships to President Barack Obama, the first black President in the U.S. The exhibit reveals the stories of freedom’s heroes, such as Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, the Tuskegee Airmen and Jesse Owens.
“Quilts articulate a powerful language of familiarity through which they may speak to and about our experience as human beings,’’ Mazloomi says on her website. “I am drawn to vulnerable people – the disenfranchised, dispossessed, outsiders. The injustice and harsh realities of the daily lives of those in need motivate me to create artwork depicting their circumstances.”
Mazloomi published a book earlier this year with the same title. The book includes 97 quilts. Mazloomi’s own quilts have been exhibited extensively in venues such as the Mint Museum, American Folk Art Museum in New York City, National Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Art and Design.
Her pictorial narrative quilts make plain her personal themes: family life, women’s rights, political freedom, and musical legacy. Her own quilts have been included in over 70 exhibits and she has curated extensive exhibits of quilts made by members of the Women of Color Quilters Network.
The Owens quilt was made by Cleveland’s Julius Bremer, and captures the sprinter when he competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Germany. “I picked him because he’s an East Tech High School alumnus,’’ Bremer said in a story on Cleveland.com. Bremer is a 1971 graduate of the same school.