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African-American Quilts and Needle Arts Exhibitions Opened at New York State Museum
Sonji Hunt, (River Hills, Wisconsin) There is No Melody to Follow, 2006. Hand painted muslin and canvas, fabric paints, batting, Peltex, cotton fl oss, grommets, fused, hand embroidered, machine quilted.


ALBANY, NY.- Two exhibitions – one showcasing African-American quilts, and another displaying fiber and needle arts by and for men of the African diaspora – opened at the New York State Museum.

Textural Rhythms: Constructing the Jazz Tradition, and My Brothers’ Thread: Fiber Works by and for Men of the African Diaspora, will be on display in the Museum’s Exhibition Hall through March 1.

Textural Rhythms unites the two most well-known and popular artistic forms in African-American culture – jazz and quilting. Jazz, like quilting, is a woven art form. Both genres produce a textural harvest spun from the life fibers of masters of the imagination who create for our contemplation. Quilt making, as in jazz, evokes a host of complex rhythms and moods and then captures them in the creative process. When the two forms connect, the creative energy explodes exponentially. Textural Rhythms: Constructing the Jazz Tradition releases both of these genres of art and becomes a showcase for the work of artists in the Women of Color Quilters Network. Carolyn Mazloomi, the Network’s founder and coordinator, curated the traveling exhibition.

The exhibition, part of a national two and one-half-year tour, showcases approximately 64 quilts from 55 artists. It includes work from some of America’s best-known African- American quilters such as Michael Cummings, Ed Johnetta Miller, Tina Brewer, and Jim Smoote.

Just as the varied styles of jazz cause listeners to respond differently, the quilts of Textural Rhythms persuade viewers to salute the bonding of two worlds, jazz and quilts, in a distinguished combination of cultural tradition, sophistication, and panache. Regardless of technique – unpretentious folk, intricate appliqué, conventional piecing, or complex montage -- these quilt artists have harnessed in cloth, the spirit of jazz through meticulous reflections of the souls of jazz folk and the music that sways them.

Creative Art Day, a program that invites families to participate in artful activities based on Museum exhibitions, will focus on Textural Rhythms. The free program will be held January 31 from 1 to 3 p.m.

My Brothers’ Thread: Fiber Works by and for Men of the African Diaspora gathers artists of diverse cultural backgrounds, from Harlem to Trinidad to Newark, to show that a single thread can bind a community together.

In Western culture, fiber and needle arts have traditionally been viewed as the realm of women. African men, however, have been at the forefront of weaving and other textile arts for centuries. My Brothers’ Thread engages the mind, dismisses myths about traditional roles in fiber and needle arts, and explores the many talents African culture offers to the world. By doing so, it highlights the positive aspects of men of the Diaspora and fosters new avenues for children to embrace.

The exhibition includes quilts and other mixed media by artists Robert Cash, Laura R. Gadson, Jerry Gant, Stuart McClean, Marvin Sin and Maluwa Williams-Myers. It was organized by Harlem Needle Arts (HNA), Inc., a craft institute founded in 2003 to preserve and promote fiber art and artisans of the African Diaspora. HNA organizes exhibitions and workshops to introduce needle arts and crafts to the Harlem community and provides resource development and technical assistance to artists.






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