African Americans really let freedom ring with their stunning quilts in celebration of Juneteenth 2023 in my area of Durham, North Carolina. 

When I saw the graphic to the right here show up in my newsfeed, I was instantly intrigued. The theme was “Deconstructing the Mammy Archetype.” The website goes on to describe the Mammy archetype as such: “…a stereotypical portrayal of Black women in American popular culture. It is a caricature of a nurturing, maternal figure who is often depicted as overweight, asexual, and happily serving white people. The Mammy stereotype has been used to justify the enslavement and subjugation of Black women and has been perpetuated through various forms of media.”

Well then. You have my attention…and I’ll be there!

The cover photo here really drew me in. A quilt by the famed Kimberly Pierce Cartwright, it checked all the boxes for me:

  • folk art
  • social justice
  • cultural

This was going to be my kind of quilt show!

This event could not have been held in a more hip location. In a very old building called The Fruit, it’s quirky enough for just about any artist. It was absolutely perfect: low ceilings, exposed brick walls, track lighting, and a bar. 

Immediately upon walking in, I was struck by a series of small quilts which were replications of Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt. I had never heard anything about it. I looked it up here, and now I am informed.

I love these modern artists’ replication of Harriet’s blocks. It is fun to see this 19th century quilt translated using brighter colors and modern fabrics. 

The next quilt to catch my eye was by Kimberly Cartwright, called “I’s Free I’s Free.” This one is a little different because the woman in the center portrait is painted on fabric. Then, I love the scrappy border adding bright colors.

Another striking quilt which caught my attention from a distance was “I Am Not My Hair” by author Aisha Lumumba. This is another quilt artist who is new to me, and I am happy to know of her now! I beg of you to click on the link I’ve provided and learn more about her. In this quilt, I love how she uses log cabin construction in the dress.

Terri M Jenkins is another new to me quilt artist. These are two of her quilts. On the left here is “Pillars of Strength and Light.” The bright orange can’t help but grab your attention from a distance. The photo on the right, and the quilt on the right is also by Terri, titled “Bold, Fierce, and Free.” The metal bling she used to embellish this quilt is fun, along with the mixed textiles – that hair!! The quilt on the left in the same photo is “Preacher” by Mary L. Clemson.

Kantha quilts, referring to the type of stitching used! I love Kantha quilts and these women did not disappoint. Melanie Dantzler is one of the artists, click on her name to learn a little more about her. Doretha Hamidullah is the artist of the quilt at the bottom, likewise click on her name to learn a little more about her. 

This mermaid quilt was really fun to look at, especially the close up detail. Sadly, I didn’t get the label with the maker and the title in the photo. If you are reading this and you know who made it, please let me know in the comments!

This was really a thoughtful quilt. Notable African American figures are featured. The maker is seen in the photo on the left corner. They were talking so long, I wasn’t able to get a photo of her name and the title of the quilt, lol!

In all, there were so many quilts, all different and creative. The event was very well attended, and it was quite a diverse crowd, yay! I wish I could put all the quilts in this post, as they were all so fun to behold. Please, see my follow up post to this one where I feature the Durham African American Quilt Guild.


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