Sunday, February 1, 2015

Biography of Riché Richardson for the 2015 “Portraits” Art Quilt Exhibition

Exhibition Title: "Portraits II: From Montgomery to Paris"

Location: Troy University's Rosa Parks Museum, Montgomery, Alabama

Dates: January 10, 2015 - March 27, 2015

July 7, 2014, Standing at Bus Stop on Seneca St. in Ithaca, New York

December 17, 2010, Home in Montgomery, Alabama for the Holidays

January 14, 2009, Giving Talk at the U.S. Ambassador's Residence, Paris, France

August 15, 2008, Dialoging with 4th and 5th Graders from E.D. Nixon Elementary School in Gallery Room at Rosa Parks Museum during the First "Portraits" Art Quilt Show, Montgomery, Alabama

Curator: Daniel Neil with Georgette Norman

Riché Richardson, who was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, made her first portrait art quilt in 1999 and has been developing this project for the past 15 years. She has been diligent in producing various crafts since her childhood from as early as age nine, when she first began to focus on sewing, crocheting and collecting dolls. She taught herself to knit and also eventually made some soft-sculpture dolls during her teen years. Her beautiful art quilts are often described by people who have seen them on exhibition as quilts unlike any that they have ever seen before, as evidenced in the nearly 60 pieces featured here, which also include some of her earliest work.

The distinct signature style of portrait art quilting that she has developed draws on intricate design techniques and incorporates painting and mixed-media to produce hand-stitched, richly detailed, three-dimensional quilts. Her art quilts often unfold as multi-year projects and in some cases have taken several years to develop. With felt providing their foundational fabric and form, her quilting subjects are drawn and painted in a classic style and designed with features such as synthetic hair, eyelashes, and fingernails. They incorporate an eclectic range of materials, including hats, jewelry, shoes, ribbons, orthodontic braces, buttons, safety pins, boas, fruit, beading, flowers, eye glasses, mirrors, and ties, among other items. Her second solo art quilt exhibition, Portraits II: From Montgomery to Paris: The Appliqué Art Quilts of Riché Deianne Richardson, pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March, the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and other anniversaries in Civil Rights Movement history this year. It is dedicated to the memories of her grandparents, Joe Richardson and Emma Lou Jenkins Richardson. This exhibition expands the range of special effects that she incorporates in developing her art quilts and takes her architectural quilting style and the notion of the “built quilt” in some new and quite exciting directions. Thematically speaking, Portraits II continues to develop all of the foundational series of her first quilt show, which debuted at Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum in 2oo8, and incorporates several more series. The multiple series in which her portrait art quilts are developed include “Family,” “Political,” “Paris,” “Hollywood,” “Black History,” “The Civil Rights Movement,” “African American Literature,” and “Alabama Women,” and new versions of “Daughters of Africa” and “Delta.” In 2013, Richardson served as the invited speaker at the Rosa Parks Museum’s gala 100th birthday celebration of Rosa Parks and donated her quilt in honor of the heroine to the museum, which features this piece in its permanent collection.

The family quilts recall May Day celebrations in Montgomery, Alabama dating back to the 1960s, as well as Easter parades, school programs, and birthday celebrations. They recreate family debutante portraits from the 1970s to the 2000s. In the process, they capture a side of black life, particularly in the U.S. South, less frequently discussed. As curator Georgette Norman describes “Portraits” in the 2008 catalog for the show at Rosa Parks Museum, it “draws on aspects of Montgomery and Civil Rights history, but focuses on family showing the dignity and beauty that always existed . . . Portraits . . . captures in new form family photos and memories, and also treats political and cultural figures from Martin Luther King to Scarlett O’Hara.“ The new show is grounded by a Montgomery Bus Boycott Series that features quilts honoring Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a tribute to the 60th anniversary year of the historic movement that helps to lead off commemorations in the city of Montgomery in 2015. It features several large installation-style “torso quilts,” including the large triple quilt installation in the debutante series, which is replete with digital media such as light and sound features and also draws on principles of geometry, engineering, and architecture in its development.

The body of quilts from “Portraits” is the subject of the short film by Anne Crémieux and Géraldine Chouard entitled A Portrait of the Artist (2008), which was shot on location in Paris, France, and highlighted an interview with the scholar Patricia A. Turner. Pat Turner also discusses the “Portraits” project in her book Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African American Quilters (2009). Quilts from “Portraits” are featured in Lauren Cross’s film The Skin Quilt Project (2010). Richardson’s work has been exhibited at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the Eastville Community Historical Society in Sag Harbor, New York, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Alabama, the Carol Tatkon Center Art Gallery at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the Mairie du 5e in Paris. In January of 2009 she was invited to Paris as a “Cultural Envoy” by the U.S. Embassy in France for the opening of its national quilt exhibition, “Un Patchwork de Cultures,” under the sponsorship of a grant from the U.S. Department of State in its Speaker Series. On this visit to Paris, she was honored with a talk, reception, exhibition and film screening at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in the city, an event attended by an audience of 150 people.

Riché Richardson has been highly productive as an artist, but she is a scholar who primarily devotes her time to her academic writing and research. She earned her B.A. from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and her Ph.D. from Duke University. She is currently an associate professor in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University with interests in African American literature, American literature, Southern studies and gender studies. She spent the first 10 years of her academic career teaching at the University of California, Davis (1998-2008). In 2001, she received a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her essays have been published in journals such as American Literature, Mississippi Quarterly, Forum for Modern Language Studies, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, TransAtlantica, the Southern Quarterly, Black Camera, NKA, Phillis, and Technoculture. Her first book, Black Masculinity and the U.S. South: From Uncle Tom to Gangsta (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007), was highlighted by Choice Books among the "Outstanding Academic Titles of 2008," and by Eastern Book Company among the "Outstanding Academic Titles, Humanities, 2008." Her second book examines the U.S. South in relation to black femininity and the national body. Since 2005, she has served as the coeditor of the New Southern Studies book series at the University of Georgia Press, a series that has released 12 books thus far. Most recently, she was invited to join the Delta Research and Educational Foundation’s Sister Scholars Advisory Council. She was initiated in Spelman’s Eta Kappa Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in 1992 and is currently a member of the Montgomery Alumnae Chapter.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Portraits II: From Montgomery to Paris 2015

Portraits II: From Montgomery to Paris: The Appliqué Art Quilts of
Riché Deianne Richardson (2015)

Exhibition Dedicated to Mr. Joe Richardson and Mrs. Emma Lou Jenkins Richardson

By Riché Richardson

Curator: Daniel Neil with Georgette Norman

Early Work: A Retrospective and Prelude to “Portraits”

Includes Delta Quilt Series, Daughters of Africa Series, Family Quilt, Autobiography Quilt, and Africa Quilt Series (10 works)

Soft-sculpture doll honoring purple uniform of Alabama Association of Federated Youth Clubs completed at age 16. Second place prize winner at annual state convention. Eyes painted on by Dorothy Thomas, a neighbor who made and sold soft-sculpture dolls (1987).

Soft-sculpture doll made at age 18 to decorate dormitory room in Packard Hall at Spelman College freshman year the summer before leaving for college(1989)

“Delta Love.” First art quilt produced in 1992 as a new member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., in Spelman College’s Eta Kappa Chapter; this organization also first exhibited Riché Richardson’s art when featuring this piece in an exhibition on Spelman’s campus in 1993. This Delta art quilt also includes two small replicas in the collections of the artist’s Delta “Speshes,” Soror Patsy K. Rucker Mccray and Soror Riché Daniel Barnes

“My Family Quilt”(1993)

“Destiny’s Child: Borrowed Robes: The Autobiography of Riché Richardson”(1994)

“Daughters of Africa.” From the Collection of Claire Milligan(1993). Large, multi-panel art quilt on which this series is based was completed in the summer of 1993.

“Daughters of Africa.” Appliqué work by Riché Richardson and quilting by Georgette Norman.
From the Collection of Georgette Norman (1993).

Africa Quilt (1995)

Africa Quilt (1995)

“JoAnn Richardson: School Days.” First painted art quilt that launched the “Portraits” art quilt project (1999)

*A quilted “Daughters of Africa” potholder and a Christmas stocking featuring a Christmas tree and snowman were also produced during the mid-1990s phase, though no art quilts were produced between 1996 and 1998

From Portraits II Family Series, Including Baby and Children, Education, Debutante and Self-Portrait Series, Including Various Installation-Style Works with Light and Sound Technology Components (29 Works)

“Debutante Daddy: Mr. Joe Richardson Presenting Daughter Pamela Richardson As a Debutante in National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., Beta Beta Chapter Cotillion, Garrett Coliseum, Montgomery, Alabama, April 10, 1976” (Joe Richardson, b. July 11, 1915 and Commemorating 100 Years in 2015) (Debutante Series). Installation-style panel 1 of 3. Composition 2011-2014.

“Debutante Pamela Richardson Presented by Father, Mr. Joe Richardson, in National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., Beta Beta Chapter Cotillion, Garrett Coliseum, Montgomery, Alabama, April 10, 1976” (Debutante Series). Installation-style panel 2 of 3. Composition 2011-2014.

“Debutante Mama: Mrs. Emma Lou Jenkins Richardson, Mother of Pamela Richardson in National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa Debutante Cotillion, Garrett Coliseum, Montgomery, Alabama, April 10, 1976” (Debutante Series). Installation-style panel 3 of 3. Composition 2011-2014.

Top hat, white-tipped cane, white pedestal column and white floral bouquet positioned at left adjacent to panel 1. A segment from the original newspaper article related to the cotillion positioned right of panel 3. Special thanks to Pamela R. Garrett for developing the flower bouquet designs and to Kim Salter at Evening Out Formal Wear in Montgomery, Alabama for providing the cane featured in the installation.

The main song in the digital soundtrack component of this debutante quilt installation is Barbara Streisand’s “The Way We Were”(1976). Among other songs in rotation are Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” The Carpenters’ “Close to You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun,” Fred Astaire’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together,” Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Shining Star” and The Chordettes’ “Mr. Sandman.” Installation also includes one-light spotlight beam technology shining on center panel. Special thanks to Daniel Neil for collaborating on sound and light technology features of this art quilt installation.

“Jo Ann and ‘Junior Man’ II, or, ‘Butler’ and ‘Jenny’: Cowboys at Christmas.” Installation-style quilt. Special Thanks to T-Shirt Express for Screen Printing Background Photographs. Dedicated to Nancy Hodge Richardson, Murray Richardson, and Sarah and Clinton Carson. Special thanks to Joanne Richardson for preparing the fringe on the outfits in this art quilt installation. Composition 2009-2015.

“Pam as Booker T. Washington May Day Queen.” Original newspaper article related to the festivities is positioned on the wall. Composition 2009-2014.

“Riché Deianne Richardson as Jr. Gayfer Girl in 1983 at Age 11 and Dressed for the Group Photo, the First Event after Graduation from Poise-Charm Classes at Gayfers Department Store (formerly Montgomery Fair) in Montgomery Mall"(Family Series, Education Series, and Self-Portrait Series). Special Thanks to T-Shirt Express for the T-Shirt Design and Production.
Composition 2012-13.

“’Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes!’: Keri Diamond Smith and Megan Chereé Smith, School Days at St. John-Resurrection"(Family Series, Education Series) Installation-style quilt. Also features sound of children’s song “Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes.” Special thanks to Daniel Neil for collaborating on sound technology features of this art quilt installation. Composition 2005-12.

“Riché Deianne Richardson: Profile in the State of Alabama” (Self-Portrait). Composition 2011-2014.

Political Series

“Obama Time: Always (Congratulations, Mr. President!)” (Political Series). Composition 2008-09.

“The Magnificent Michelle Obama, Our First Lady: ‘Strength and Honor are Her Clothing’(Proverbs 31: 25)”(Political Series). Composition 2009.

“Mary McLeod Bethune: One of America’s Greatest Sweethearts and the World’s Best Leaders.” Composition 2012-2014.

"Clarence Thomas’s High Tech Lynching?: Inferior Court Justice to Be"(Political Series). Composition 2002-12.

"Condoleezza Rice: From Birmingham to the White House" (Alabama Women Series, Political Series). Composition 2011- 2012.

“The Journey of Condoleezza Rice.” Composition 2012.

“’W’: President George W. Bush, #43.” Composition 2013-14.

Civil Rights Movement: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Series

“Rosa Parks, Whose ‘No’ in 1955 Launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Was Heard Around the World”(Commemorating 100 Years, 1913-2013) (Civil Rights Movement Series, Black History Series, and Alabama Women Series). Dedicated to Georgette Norman. Composition 2006-12.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to a Dream for America” (Black History Series). Composition 2012-2014.

“E.D. Nixon: Father of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Civil Rights Movement” (Black History Series) In Memory of E.D. Nixon, Jr., a.k.a. “Nick LaTour.” Dedicated to Alma Burton Johnson. Composition 2012-13.

Paris Series

“James Baldwin: From Harlem to Paris” (African American Literature Series). Composition 2012-2014.

“’Richard Wright: From Mississippi to Paris” (African American Literature Series). Composition 2012-2014.

“Audrey Tautou as Amélie.” Composition 2011.

Hollywood Series

“Charleston's Finest: Clark Gable as Rhett Butler"(Gone with the Wind Series). Special thanks to Daniel Neil for collaborating on sound technology features of this art quilt installation. (Panel 3 of 3). Composition 2006-12.

“Dorothy Dandridge Playing Carmen Jones” Installation-style quilt. Special thanks to Daniel Neil for collaborating on sound technology features of this art quilt installation. Composition 2012-2014.

“I Wanted to Really Build Something: To Sidney Poitier with Love.” Composition 2012-2014.

“The Marvelous Marilyn Monroe.” Installation-style quilt. Special thanks to Daniel Neil for collaborating on sound technology features of this art quilt installation. Composition 2011 -2014.

Black History Series

“Daughter of Africa, Mother of African American Literature, Another American Revolution” (Black History Series, African American Literature Series, and New Daughters of Africa Series). Dedicated to Honorée Jeffers. Composition 2010-12.

“The Great Abolitionist Frederick Douglass: ‘I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday’; Birthday Unknown but Celebrated February 14” (Black History Series) Dedicated to Class of 2009, Suger High School, Saint-Denis in Paris, France. Installation-style quilt. Includes display of a broken cowhide whip. Composition 2010-11.

“Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison”(African American Literature Series). Composition 2010.

“The Vision of W.E.B. Du Bois.” Composition 2012-2014.

Portraits from Montgomery to Paris(2008) (19 Works)

From Family Series, Including Wedding, Graduation/Education, and Debutante Series, Three Installations, and Artist Self Portraits

"Sunday Afternoon on Palafox Street in Pensacola, Florida during WWII: Emma Lou
Jenkins Richardson.” Composition 1999-00.

“Sunday Afternoon on Palafox Street in Pensacola, Florida during WWII: Joe Richardson.” Composition 2000-01.

"JoAnn and 'Junior Man': Easter Sunday, Montgomery, Alabama, 1954"(Installation). Composition 2001-04.

"Pam's Graduation from Kindergarten at Mrs. Drake's"(Installation). Composition 2005-08.

"JoAnn Richardson: Graduation Picture at Booker Washington High School." Composition 2005-06.

"Joseph Richardson: Graduation Picture at Booker Washington High School.” Composition 2006-07

"Pamela Richardson: Graduation Picture at Jefferson Davis High School." Composition 2005-08.

"The Honeymooners: Celebrating 47 Years: Emma Richardson." Composition 2005-06.

"The Honeymooners: Celebrating 47 Years: Joe Richardson." Composition 2005-08.

“Riché Deianne Richardson: Graduation Picture at St. Jude Educational Institute of 'The City of St. Jude.”' (The Last Camping Place for Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers in 1965) (Self-Portrait). Special Thanks to Dr. Kelly Gianetti for Sterilized Orthodontic Appliances. Composition 2005-06.

“Riché Deianne Richardson, Age 17: Debutante Cotillion Program Portrait, 1989." (Self-Portrait). Composition 2006-08.

"Keri Diamond Smith, Age 17: Debutante Cotillion Program Portrait, 2004." Composition 2006-08.

"Megan Chereé Smith, Age 17: Debutante Cotillion Program Portrait, 2006." Composition 2006-08.

From Paris Series

"Playing Venus Hot to Trot?: Josephine Baker"(Commemorating 100 years, 1906-2006). Composition 2001-05.

"Remembering a Dutiful Daughter: Simone de Beauvoir" (Commemorating 100 years, 1908-2008). Composition 2004-07.

From Political Series

"The Ties that Bind: John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy." Composition 2002-04.

"A Tie, Too?": Malcolm X." Composition 2002-04.

From Hollywood Series

"Playing 'Mammy': Not Hattie McDaniel!" Composition 2006-08.

"Sweet Scarlett?: Vivien Leigh Playing Southern Belle." Composition 2006-08.