‘And Still We Rise’ celebrates African American history through quilting
Part history lesson, part artist interpretation, part museum exhibition catalog, “And Still We Rise: Race, Culture, and Visual Conversations,” is a celebration of African American history, culture and its contribution to the Unites States as we know it today.
The book and accompanying art exhibit is vision of Carolyn, L. Mazloomi, who has her doctorate in aerospace engineering, but has spent much of her life curating art quilt exhibits that showcase African American quilters and history. Mazloomi comes from three generations of artists and is a painter herself. As an African American, she finds it important to specialize in African American quilt making, an area that she says many historians don’t focus on.
“As an historian and curator it is important to me to find a place in quilt history for African American quilts,” Mazloomi said. “I have always been interested in stories and I find it convenient to use fabric to tell those stories.”
Mazloomi has curated exhibits of quilts make by African American artists on the history of jazz, Biblical art and spirituality and the life of Nelson Mandela.
For “And Still We Rise,” Mazloomi started with a timeline of events that played a pivotal role in African American history and turned to the Women of Color Quilters Network to choose the moments that spoke to them and bring the people and events to life using fabric and thread.
“I conceived of the show and doing the timeline to not only introduce people outside of African American culture about the contributions of African Americans, but also to African Americans themselves,” Mazloomi said. “It was my hope that the exhibition would promote a dialogue between the races about race relations in this country.”
Some of the historical moments that have been represented in quilts include the first ship to bring slaves to the United States, the underground railroad, the ratification of the 14th Amendment, Brown v. Board of Education, the “I Have a Dream” speech, the Civil Rights Act, Katrina and Voter ID laws enacted in 2012.
Notable persons in African American history are also included such as Lucy Terry Prince, Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Mildred and Richard Loving, Maya Angelou, Condoleezza Rice, Trayvon Martin and Barack Obama
Each quilt is accompanied by an explanation by the quilt maker that details the subject or historical event and how it inspired the quilting process. This adds to the book’s appeal as it is part history lesson and artist perspective in one.
Mazloomi hopes the exhibit will serve as a powerful visual reminder of all that African Americans have contributed to American history and culture and of the social issues that still plague the nation today.
“There are just so many untold stories that are so important and uplifting to African American culture,” Mazloomi said. “I just felt that they had to be shared, not just within the race, but outside as well. These are history lessons, the show acts in a positive way to disseminate information about African American history. So people can see that there is greatness in the culture. There are wonderful things that have happened within the culture.”
Schiffer Publishing is giving away one copy of “And Still We Rise: Race, Culture, and Visual Conversations” by Carolyn L. Mazloomi. Fill out the form below to enter for a chance to win yours. You have until 11:59 p.m. CST on Friday, June 12 to enter.