Minneapolis, MN – The Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (MAAHMG) opens its new exhibition the “Community Quilt Project” which features 14 quilts that express themes of Black history, Black joy, love, family, racial justice, civil rights, Black liberation, gun violence & healing, and Juneteenth – freedom. There is also a quilt honoring Prince that was created during the painting of the Prince mural. The exhibit opens January 10 and an opening reception for the exhibit will be held on January 19 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the museum, 1256 Penn Avenue N., Minneapolis.
The quilts, which span over five feet in both height and width, are made from numerous 12 x 12 inch fabric squares that were designed and decorated by individual community members who attended the 10 public quilting events hosted by MAAHMG from May through September 2022. Participation in the project was free and open to the public, and all supplies were provided by MAAHMG. The project was led by artists, creatives, quilters, and seamstresses who assisted people with ideas for their individual quilt squares and then sewed the squares together to make the unique quilts. About 350 people participated in the project.
“Quilts are important historical and artistic pieces in the Black community that encompass the tradition of storytelling, and are expressions of culture, community and freedom,” said Tina Burnside, MAAHMG Cofounder and Curator, who organized the project and curated the exhibit. “The project introduced people to quilt making and brought people together after everyone was isolated over the past two years by COVID and traumatized by police killings of Black people in the Twin Cities. It was beautiful to see people connect with each other around a creative activity.”
Historically, quilts served a dual purpose as they were functional for warmth and bedding, and artistic for household décor. During slavery, enslaved Black women had to spin, weave and sew quilts for White people. However, enslaved women would also make quilts for their own families by turning scraps or throw away garments into beautiful designs and patterns. Quilting also created bonds between Black women as they gathered together to create their own culture and connections away from the oppression of slavery. Quilting also gave people a safe place to gather. Quilts made by African Americans were distinguished by their storytelling, bright colors, abstract designs, and strip-piecing.
The MAAHMG Community Quilt Project is funded by a Creative Support for Organizations Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.