“And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations” opens Feb. 6 for Black History Month at the California Museum
Traveling exhibit covering 400 years of U.S. history inspires reflection & action on issues challenging America in 2018, such as civil rights, race relations, border security, immigration & gender equality
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — Jan. 19, 2018: Today, the California Museum announced the traveling exhibit “And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations” will open on Tues., Feb. 6, 2018 in observance of Black History Month. A survey of the African American experience from the 17th through 21st centuries, the exhibit covers 400 years of U.S. history as told through 67 quilts created by artists from the Women of Color Quilters Network. Exploring topics including civil rights, race relations, border security, immigration and gender equality, the exhibit inspires reflection on issues still challenging America in 2018 and inspires visitors to address them by standing up for their rights and the rights of others.
“We are thrilled to present ‘And Still We Rise’ as the first temporary exhibition aligned with the social justice mission of the new Unity Center,” said Amanda Meeker, California Museum Executive Director. “Each artwork in this exhibit depicts a chapter in our nation’s slow and sometimes halting evolution toward a more equitable society. As we follow the quilts’ storyline from the 1600s to today, we realize that each of us, in ways big or small, can help determine whether the next chapter is one of progress.”
Curated by Women of Color Quilters Network founder Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, the exhibit features 67 hand-crafted story quilts designed by fiber artists from California and across the nation. A narrative of the African American experience from the 17th to the 21st centuries, the quilts depict transformational moments in U.S. history sparking contemplation of social justice issues that continue to challenge America in 2018.
For example, the history of Manhattan Island’s 12-foot wall built in 1653 by indentured servants and enslaved African and Native American workers is recounted in Valeria Pratt Poitier’s “240 Million Slaves Ago.” Designed to protect the settlement from invasion by the British, the wall later became the site of New York’s Wall Street, a symbol of the ways America’s economic and power structures were built on bondage and inequality. In “Cathy Williams – Buffalo Girl,” Allyson Allen documents the story of a freed female slave who served in the Buffalo Soldiers’ 38th Infantry disguised as a man, the only known transgender individual to serve in the military in the 19th century.
“The exhibition gives voices to personal, authentic and unique histories of African American men and women — from relating painful stories of enslaved ancestors, to highlighting contemporary political leaders and drawing attention to social challenges our nation continues to face today,” said Dr. Mazloomi.
The contributions of African American champions of freedom and democracy appear in “Life Scene” by Gwendolyn Aqui, memorializing Frederick Douglass for advocating equality among all races, colors and genders, and in “The Ascension” by Linda Gray celebrating former President Barack Obama as the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office. Themes of gender equality underlie Ife Felix’s “Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed” honoring the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Laura R. Gadson’s “Mammy’s Golden Legacy” paying homage to Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to be nominated for an Academy Award® in 1939.
In addition to its historic and social justice themes, “And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations” showcases quilting’s enduring appeal as a uniquely American folk art. A range of techniques including free-motion quilting, embroidery, needlepoint, appliqué, fiber collage, fusing and hand beading are explored, along with a variety of textiles and materials, such as photographic transfers and found objects.
Initially open at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center located in Cincinnati, OH in 2013, “And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations” will be on view at the California Museum through Sun., May 27, 2018 as the last scheduled venue of its national tour. For more information, visit cincymuseum.org/traveling-exhibits/and-still-we-rise.
ABOUT CALIFORNIA MUSEUM:
A self-supporting 501(c)3 non-profit, the California Museum — home of the California Hall of Fame — engages, educates and enlightens people about California’s rich history, its diversity and its unique influence on the world of ideas, innovation, art and culture. Through interactive experiences, the Museum inspires visitors to make a mark on history. Open Tues.-Sat. 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sun.: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; closed Mondays. Admission: adults $9.00; college students & seniors $7.50 with valid ID; youth 6-17: $7.00; kids 5 and under free. For more information, visit californiamuseum.org.
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