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BHM Series #7: A Visual History of African-American Experience

In honor of Black History Month, I’m reposting this previous series. A few years ago, (2015 to be exact!) I challenged myself to write 28 posts highlighting African-American History. This year I finally reached my goal!!! Check out my original post below which appeared on December 11, 2015. To see more posts in this series, click here.


At a visit to the Museum of African American History in Boston this past summer, I found an amazing resource for parents or educators wanting to share the richness and diversity of our African-American history and experience through artistic quilts.  And Still We Rise — Race Culture and Visual Conversations is national traveling exhibit organized by Cincinnati Museum Center, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and the Women of Color Quilters Network. The book (by the same name) contains 97 original works by contemporary quilt artists who masterfully trace the path of Black history by exploring people, places, events and ideas over the past 400 years.

I have included pictures of some quilts below. As you can see, they are beautiful works of art, in and of themselves. The fact that each quilt piece is accompanied by a brief summary makes them an even more amazing resource for teachers or parents. These bite-sized pieces of African-American history are complex yet visually compelling. The fact that they are quilt pieces makes them both beautiful and approachable. I could see these being used by teachers in a variety of ways. Students could use these quilt pieces to unpack concepts of symbolism or art interpretation, while exploring themes in African-American history.

A Visual History of African-American Experience: 240 Million African Slaves Ago (2012) Valarie Pratt Poitier, Natick, MA

240 Million African Slaves Ago (2012) Valarie Pratt Poitier, Natick, MA 50.5 x 50 in. Materials: Cotton fabric, cotton batting, metal chain, beads Techniques: Machine embroidery, appliqué, machine quilting

 

A Visual History of African-American Experience: The Beginning of Social Justice (2012) Cynthia H. Catlin, San Pedro, CA

The Beginning of Social Justice (2012) Cynthia H. Catlin, San Pedro, CA 35.5 x 35 in. Materials: Hand-dyed cotton fabric, suede, wool batting, metallic thread, rayon thread Techniques: Machine appliqué, machine quilting, free-motion machine quilting, embroidery – See more at: http://www.cincymuseum.org/traveling-exhibits/and-still-we-rise#sthash.ZCkHzGsl.dpuf

A Visual History of African-American Experience: Katrina Wreckage and Tears . . . And Still We Rise (2012) Viola Burley Leak

Katrina Wreckage and Tears . . . And Still We Rise (2012) Viola Burley Leak, Washington, D.C. 77.5 x 72.5 in. Materials: Cotton fabric, lamé, metallic threads, cotton batting, acrylic paint Techniques: Silk screen, hand painting, machine quilting – See more at: http://www.cincymuseum.org/traveling-exhibits/and-still-we-rise#sthash.ZCkHzGsl.dpuf

 

A Visual History of African-American Experience: Hear from the Artists

Here more from the artists in this video.

How might you use these resources to share the rich, complexity of African-American history with your kids or students? What other resources can you share? Please list your ideas in the comments below!


A Visual History of African-American Experience: My homework assignment; Inspired by an SNL’s skit, I challenged myself to write 28 posts highlighting African-American culture and heritage (roughly one for each day of the month)… Do you have a great resource to share? Post it in the comments or email me!

If you found this post informative, can you please share it? Thank you!

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