Thursday, September 24, 2009

J2WH in Dr. Gaither's words

This past Saturday, Dr. Gaither gave the final Quilting from the Soul workshop during J2WH's run at the Banneker-Douglass Museum. During the workshop, she talked about how she creates her works, what goes into her process, and provided a nice discussion on J2WH in front of the quilt. I caught a portion of the discussion on film and am providing it below. This is, interestingly enough, the first time you are able to see a full shot of the quilt installed at the museum on this blog.

The video clip runs just over 5 minutes. Five minutes and eight seconds to be exact. I will post a transcript soon. Enjoy!

Oh, and just in case you forgot, the last day to see J2WH as well as the Obama Mural at the Banneker-Douglass Museum is Saturday, 26 September 2009!


video

The other thing that shows up a lot is a book, the Bible, or the album there’s always some religious piece or symbol that’s there and you can do that any way you like. Again think about how you want to tell your story.

For here there is also a cornucopia of fruit, second row. On each end there is a cornucopia of fruit there and a fruit bowl of fruit over here and that symbolizes plenty, abundance. So if say for someone you had a very abundant life with many many friends, you might want to do a cornucopia or a bowl with all the faces of all these friends that supported you. So on this side I have all the faces of the Democratic candidates and all the Republican ones are over here on the side. And I had to change it at the last minute because there came Sarah Palin bigger than life so I tried to, you know, put her face in but make it a little larger let it just outshine or overlap McCain just a little tiny bit. So trying to get those details and things that are there.

Hillary Clinton was there so there’s a story not just about her but it was also the anniversary of women’s right to vote. And Sarah Palin said she wanted to thank two women who made it possible for her to be in this position and she thanked Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro. And on my square I thought Shirley Chisholm, you know [Carol] Mosley Braun. I mean there were women there even before them so I wanted to put them in. Even for Barack Obama along the side edge is Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and Allan Keyes who also ran for that position. So in terms of trying to be fair and open and tell that complete story as best you can, that’s what I really am about and with my own work.

So as you document your stories, who are the characters, who are the players, what are the events, what’s the important emotion that you want to tie to it. OK? So I’ve given a lot to think about.

For this series, the American Series quilts there’s six, as I said, that will be in the series. They start with African fabric, fabric from Africa. Here, most of them, some from Ghana, some from Kenya, but it’s also mudcloth and for here I decided that this was a man that needed to be surrounded with some spirituality so purple is the color for that. So that’s there. Green is the color for life and I thought he was invigorating us, bringing new life, and new ideas and all this stuff so that helped me to think about the colors I use. But all of that fabric is from Africa that represents the homeland Africa.

The pins that go all the way around symbolize the pain of being pulled from Africa in slavery, coming through the Middle Passage which is the blue, and then the red and the black sort of fabric that is there represents the blood that was lost in that Middle Passage. And then as you come in the stars and stripes and flags you see, there is a very thick rope it’s like a coiling over the top that I wrap the fabric around to physically symbolize being brought in slavery, captivity, into the U.S.

And then the railroad track pattern represents, acknowledges, the Underground Railroad and on it I have started putting the chronology. So if you start down in this lower left hand corner where the white square is and the heart and come all the way around, it chronicles major events in the life of Barack Obama, the president, and every other one also shows and highlights bills that are attached to his name while he was a Senator so when people say he didn’t do anything, what did he do, well you can go every other one and see, and I did not get them all, but these are major pieces of legislation that are tied to him. So I wanted to try to, you know, make all that work.

So each square has a story and one of the things that I really like about this whole format is that it allows you, it pulls people’s attention because you discover one little thing and you go “Oh my gosh.” My aunt gave me that hat and she said “I want this on the quilt” and I went “OK,” you know like throwing your hat in the ring. So its what I did and around it it says “Got Hope,” you know, a little couple things there.

Its…I call this quilting from the soul. I think anything you want to put on it is fine. OK? You do it any way you want, any way you want to. It’s your story. If you want to mix up fabrics, if you want to mix up…and it works for you and it’s a part of your story, fine. Ok, so that’s what I do. So everybody has my permission to tell your story in any way that you want you know to get that meaning and the heart of the story. It can’t be just any old story, but it has to be something that is really important to you.


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