Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thank You to My Ever-Growing Community

Let me first say thank you to my ever-growing communities of supporters and participants in our shared stories stitched and attached to the quilts in My American Series. I have always been mindful that the work one does in the community becomes a model for others to follow. In the metropolitan Baltimore/Annapolis area, whatever success I've achieved working with quilts in the community ties to a strong collaboration and partnership with the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Maryland, Northern Arundel Cultural Preservation Society, Inc., and now the Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge and thank BDM's own technical/computer/PR guru Genevieve Kaplan, who has created and maintained the on-going posts of the quilts' journey and who has scheduled, promoted, and helped me to facilitate quilt workshops at the museum and throughout the region.

Before My American Series began its national tour in Hartford, Connecticut, the sixth quilt in the series, the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay was launched during an exceptionally well-planned and highly attended dedication reception. The emotionally charged day remains memorable as I reflect upon the strength and power of shared knowing and celebration of the black watermen's rich contributions to the history and culture of the American story of entrepreneurship, work, life, and leisure on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

I also extend a heartfelt thank you to the Greater Hartford Chapter of Links for featuring a special exhibition of my quilts with particular focus on Gordon, a healing quilt for a Hartford, Connecticut native son, celebrating a life too soon gone. I'm honored to have had the opportunity to see the Hartford Stage production of Gee's Bend Quilts, have my quilts be extended for the run of the show, and to be one of the many quilters taking part in Community Threads quilt project throughout the city of Hartford. This is a grass roots quilting project that seeks to honor the stories and handiworks of diverse quilters that help us to see how we are linked past to present and inextricably linked within our ongoing history, our smaller communities in particular, and to the larger community in general.

Look for a future posting of the six documentary story quilts in My American Series and my travels to eighteen of the twenty-three venues that showcase 100+ quilts in the Community Threads exhibition. Homage to Ed & Sylvia Brown, the first in the series, acknowledges and celebrates the $15 million gift to the cultural institutions in Baltimore. The Brown Quilt and Journey to the White House have been installed at Hartford's City Hall. The Conrad Mallett Gallery exhibits three Maryland story quilts: Trails Tracks Tarmac, Friendship-BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport, and the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay. At Freedom's Door: Challenging Slavery in Maryland will go on exhibition at the Hartford Public Library during Black History Month. If you find yourself in the Hartford area, pick up a brochure that is located in the exhibition spaces or check out the project blog at

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