Monday, June 25, 2012

The Rosa Parks Quilt

Images of the Rosa Parks Quilt

Georgette Norman, the Director at the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, with the Rosa Parks quilt

Wearing the T Shirt that reads, "I Am Because She Was," which was produced for the powerful tribute to Rosa Parks at UC Davis in February, 2006

Dialoging with 4th and 5th graders at E.D. Nixon Elementary in the Gallery Room at the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery as they visited the exhibition "Portraits: From Montgomery to Paris" in 2008

My Mother, Joanne Richardson, with the Rosa Parks Statue in the Gallery Room at the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery

See link to Rosa Parks Quilt Album on Facebook at!/media/set/?set=a.476342439046258.129941.166330006714171&type=3

The post below is the second installment in a series of meditations on Rosa Parks on the road to the celebration of her centenary in 2013. It also frames the presentation of the art quilt in my Political Series entitled “Rosa Parks, Mother of the Civil Rights Movement: Commemorating 100 Years (1913-2013)” from my “Portraits II: From Montgomery to Paris” art quilt exhibition in progress, which is scheduled at the Rosa Parks Museum and Library in Montgomery, Alabama

The art quilt "Rosa Parks, Mother of the Civil Rights Movement"(Commemorating 100 Years, 1913-2013) (Civil Rights Movement Series, Black History Series, Alabama Women Series). Donation to the permanent collection of the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, Montgomery, Alabama. From upcoming solo exhibition entitled "Portraits II: From Montgomery to Paris"(2015). Dedicated to Georgette Norman, Director of the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery, AL. Furthermore, this piece will be featured in a Special Edition Print Card whose upcoming professional photo shoot is the very first on the road to the exhibition. As the description above indicates, it is included in several series in my "Portraits" art quilt repertoire, an art quilting project that I launched in 1999 and have been working on for the past 13 years, and that is the subject of the 2008 film entitled "A Portrait of the Artist," which was made in Paris by Géraldine Chouard and Anne Crémieux and features an interview with the scholar Patricia A. Turner. This quilt also accords with the commemorative quilts I produced for the Paris Series in my first show in 2008-quilts that honored the centenaries of both Josephine Baker (2006) and Simone de Beauvoir (2008).

This piece is rendered in the painted portrait, architecturally-oriented, mixed-media art quilt style that I've developed and refined over the years (i.e. "the built quilt"). Beyond this quilt, there are two additional "centennial quilts" in the upcoming exhibition. I bought the basic materials and drew and painted the face for the Rosa Parks quilt back in 2005 during the same summer that I "painted to the end of the show," for I had originally intended to include this piece in my 2008 debut show. I ended up holding it back and in the ensuing time, redesigned the Rosa Parks quilt altogether. At this point, I could not be more pleased with how it's turned out. I'm glad I waited, for I think that had I finished it back then, it would have ended up being a very different quilt. All of the handquilting, drawing, painting and sewing that I do from quilt to quilt is very exacting and detailed. The stakes were even higher in this project. That is to say, the process of sewing and handquilting for this quilt was also special and I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility, and quite challenged, because Rosa Parks was a consummate seamstress, as well as a quilter, and it was important to me to get it just right stitch by stitch. It was incredibly humbling to "quilt Rosa Parks," so to speak.

It seems so fitting to dedidate this quilt of Rosa Parks to Georgette Norman in light of the ongoing inspiration that she has given me in my work as an artist, her community work, brilliant work on Rosa Parks's legacy, and ongoing commitment to the arts. As an artist, it has been both an honor and a privilege to dialogue with Georgette over the years. I appreciate her encouragement and support of my work from the year we first met (when we were assigned to the same unit as volunteers at Camp Sunshine), which is also the year that I first began to quilt. At the time, 1993, I had just graduated from Spelman, and she was working as the director of the Alabama African American Arts Alliance, which she founded. She saw me as an artist long before I ever saw myself as one, and throughout the 1990s, encouraged me to exhibit my work someday. I am deeply honored that Georgette and I are both featured in Lauren Cross's 2010 film "The Skin Quilt Project," a 2010 top 10 pick for the International Black Women's Film Festival, which also features a range of phenomenal quilters from Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi to Kyra Hicks. Here is a link to my blog post from a few months ago that discusses Georgette's impact on me an artist. I truly savor the process of working with her and learning from her as she curates my 2015 art show, including the phenonenal planning meetings, just as I have valued being a part of her veritable arts "salon" over the years.

Finally, it is exciting and inspiring that Georgette's amazing trip to London in March and bus tour of Olympic sites with a diverse group of youth in the city in honor of the legacy of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott will be featured in a truly phenomenal photographic exhibition at the Cultural Olympics this summer in the city of London during the Olympics! (

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