Wednesday, May 30, 2012

And we're back....

6 month hiatus. Yikes! As Ricky would say on I Love Lucy, "You've got some 'splainin' to do!'"

Last minute finishing touches.
I have been dreading this posting and Dr. Gaither is somewhat enjoying that fact. As longtime readers of this blog know, I am one of the most tireless fighters for Dr. Gaither to take it easy and slow down. When she works too much she generally gets sick or ends up on lockdown which is exactly what happened over the past six months. And now for the reason why I have been dreading this posting -- much of the overwork has been my fault.

For the past three years I have worked with area high schools to document local history while working with the community. The students conduct research on a subject near and dear to the community's heart that has connections to national history but is not covered in their textbooks. The students learn about oral history and then interview several community members. They combine their research with information gathered during the oral history interviews to create an interpretive product. During the first two years of the project they created a mini-documentary and a panel exhibition respectively focusing on Carr's and Sparrow's Beaches. This year they studied Rosenwald Schools and created quilts featuring Rosenwald Schools in Anne Arundel County.

When the project was originally envisioned, I had planned on working with one high school to create 2-3 quilts measuring 3 ft x 3 ft. I had planned for the project to help jumpstart the expansion of the Trails Tracks Tarmac exhibition to the southern part of the county. When Dr. Gaither's community group found out about the project they were excited and happy to help, but asked if we could make one little change....
"Could you also include a high school in the northern part of the county?"
Late night quilting session. Can you find the sleeping person in this photo?
The addition of the second high school meant doubling the size of the project. That brought the number of quilts to 4-6. We quickly decided to go for the higher number. I know, I know, what was I thinking and doing? After we selected the six Rosenwald Schools for the students to focus on, one of the community members decided to have a group of girls she worked with at the northern high school create a quilt focusing on an additional Rosenwald School bringing the total number of quilts to seven. Are you following me so far?

At the same time, two of my counterparts at other museums in the area were working on similar community/school/museum collaborations to document local history using story quilts. Historic London Town and Gardens (HLT) worked with a high school government class to tell the stories of the black and white residents of the Anne Arundel County Almshouse. Dr. Gaither and Lisa Robbins, the Director of Education at HLT, decided each student would create two 12 inch squares - one depicting the white dormitory and another depicting the black dormitory. These squares would be compiled to create two quilts, one for each of the dormitories. There were 23 students in the class. Are you doing the measurements in your head? Yup, that's right. Two quilts measuring about 6 ft x 6 ft each.

My counterpart at Historic Annapolis partnered with Bates Middle School to work with a sixth grade class to tell the story of the integration at Annapolis High School (the white high school in Annapolis) and Bates High School (the only high school for African Americans in Anne Arundel County, MD from 1933-1966). When my colleague, Heather Ersts, approached the school, they didn't want to choose just one class and asked if the entire grade could participate. After much discussion, Dr. Gaither agreed to work with the larger group of students, helping them to create six inch squares that were sewn together to make 3.5 ft x 3.5 ft quilts. Did I happen to mention that there were 275 6th graders? We ended up with seven quilts from this group.

All 16 quilts prior to being installed at the Banneker-Douglass Museum.
How is your math? Do you have a total? When completed this entire project generated 16 quilts. Did I also mention that we didn't start the quilting process until 12 March? We worked with the students at all four schools several times and then had multiple community quilting sessions to get the quilts finished by 17 May with Dr. Gaither and I up working until 4 a.m. the night before they were delivered to the Banneker-Douglass Museum. Sixteen quilts in two months. Lockdown for Dr. Gaither was inevitable.

So now the quilts are all at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis ready to make their debut this Saturday. Fifteen of the quilts will go on exhibit for the summer at BDM and one of the Bates quilts will go on display at Historic Annapolis' museum at City Dock in Annapolis. Please come and check out the work. We will have a public unveiling on Saturday from 1:30-3:30 where you can meet the people involved in the project.. If you can't make it to the opening, they will be at the museum all summer before heading off on tour to their respective schools.

1 comment:

Lakita Bee said...

Who or what have you sacrificed for your art?
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