Exhibition

The Verve of Quilted Textiles
African American Quilts from the Sandra McPherson Collection

Opening Reception January 23, 2014, 6-8 p.m.

Revealing the rich tradition and aesthetic vision of the African American quilting community, The Verve of Quilted Textiles: African American Quilts from the Sandra McPherson Collection, opens at the UC Davis Design Museum on January 21 and runs through March 14, 2014. The exhibition presents more than a dozen quilts created by generations of African American quilters, including samples from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and works created by local quilters in California. Enriching American culture, the quilts survey tangible connections with design, art, literature, social and economic subjects.

Using profound colors, ornate patterns and free arrangements of swatches cut from new or used textiles, these quilts go beyond their utilitarian purpose to convey family stories and social evolution, while many pieces in this exhibition were originally made for family use. Fragments from used jeans, sack bags, worn knitwear and men’s ties are sewn together stitch by stitch, opening windows on their journeys. The dedication to this traditional craft, the expression of emotional weight and the resourcefulness of materials are also brought together by the quilters using unique designs and techniques.

Now part of the UC Davis Design Collection, these quilts were kindly donated by Sandra McPherson, who used her vast collection of quilts as the inspiration for her poetry writings, research and teaching. McPherson transforms the visual narrative in African American quilts into verbal testimonials; as the stitches were sewn, the words were written to patch up a celebration of American culture in rhythm.

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