Inspiration Friday: quilts from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Last weekend, I had the chance to go to Cincinnati to the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. I was excited to go, but never more so when I saw the large banner on the side of the building proclaiming, “And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations,” an exhibit of 85 story quilts spanning 400 years of history.

These amazing quilts were made by an international group of artists from the Women of Color Quilters Network. They narrate the history of the African-American experience and capture the stories of freedom’s heroes.

Unfortunately, we were only in that exhibit about 10 minutes, where I was furiously trying to capture images so I could pour over them later. In many cases I didn’t get the artist’s plaque, but I only hope that will encourage you to go the exhibit yourself, if you’re anywhere near the area. The center itself is highly educational, and for any quilter, the exhibit is truly inspirational.

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“Repatriation,” by Arlene Kweli Jones (2012)
"Juliet Mills at the Rivers' Edge," Valerie C. White
“Juliet Mills at the Rivers’ Edge,” Valerie C. White. You can learn more about Juliet’s story here.

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Peggie Hartwell. Lucy Terry Prince: The Griot's Voice. 2012. Summerville, SC. 50” x 50”. 1746: Lucy Terry, an enslaved person in 1746, becomes the earliest known Black American poet when she writes about the last American Indian attack on her village of Deerfield, Mass. Her poem, “Bar's Fight,” is not published until 1855.
Peggie Hartwell. “Lucy Terry Prince: The Griot’s Voice.” 2012. Summerville, SC. 50” x 50”. Lucy Terry, an enslaved person in 1746, becomes the earliest known Black-American poet when she writes about the last American Indian attack on her village of Deerfield, Mass. Her poem, “Bar’s Fight,” is not published until 1855.
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This quilt celebrates the life of Levi Coffin, a noted abolitionist nicknamed, “President of the Underground Railroad.”
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If I had taken this photo at an angle, you might better see the three-dimensional quality of the rifle sticking out of the bow. Very powerful.
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I couldn’t make out the full title on this one, but the context is Gen’l Washington welcoming free African-Americans into the army. Learn more about their service during the Revolutionary War here.
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This one was my favorite. “240 Million African Slaves Ago,” by Valarie Pratt Poitier, 2012. In 1653, indentured servants and enslaved African and Native Americans built a 12-foot high wall across Manhattan Island to protect the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam from British invasion. The wall would stretch from the Hudson River clear across the island to the East River and would later become Wall Street.

I’ll have more samples from the exhibit next week, but if you get the chance, I hope you’ll consider making a visit to the Freedom Center to see these incredible works of art. The exhibit runs until March 29, 2014.

XOXO,
Sandra

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2 thoughts on “Inspiration Friday: quilts from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

    1. Thanks, there’ll be more to come this Friday. I’m just kicking myself for not getting more of the artists’ names. Thanks, too, for stopping by!

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