Shows and Exhibits, WCQN

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part III

Here is the final installment in my series of posts about opening weekend of the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) show Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West at the James Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida where my quilt Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet was showing.

If you are just joining us, here are the two previous related posts:

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I 

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part II 

Before I share more about the show’s opening weekend, here is a little about my time in St. Petersburg, Florida.

WANDERING AROUND ST. PETERSBURG

I’ve been to several cities in Florida in the past, but I do not remember ever visiting St. Petersburg, so let’s call it my first visit to St. Petersburg, FL. The James Museum is located in downtown St. Petersburg and although my partner John and I had a rental car, we primarily explored the downtown area where our hotel was also located.

One day between opening weekend events, we walked down to the pier area and ran into some very friendly pelicans hoping for us to feed them (which we didn’t – we listened to the posted sign!)

One of the pelicans was following me around and after a while appeared annoyed that I hadn’t fed her/him yet!

There was all sorts of interesting birds wandering around downtown St. Petersburg, here are some curious birds we ran into at a public park:

They were sort of flamingo like but I am not sure if they are in the same family. If you know what they are, let me know!

And of course I had to take some Black & White photos while wandering downtown St. Petersburg, here is my favorite of the photos I took (the rest were “nothing to write home about” so I will spare you a B&W photo essay of downtown St. Petersburg):

John and I had lunch one day and a fun restaurant, Oak and Stone, that featured a self-sampling craft beer area where you got a wrist band that you scanned and selected whatever sampler craft beers you wanted (though they did have a limit of how many samples you could buy during one visit!). Each tap had information about the craft brew selection.

We had a lot of fun sampling beers!

John and I discovered that St. Petersburg has an unusually large number of museums for its size of city – 31! We joked that since there is a lot of wealth in St. Petersburg, “everyone and their brother” wanted to have their own museum!

And now we’ll return to the show’s opening weekend.

BLACK PIONEERS SHOW OPENING WEEKEND CONTINUED

On Sunday September 11, 2022 the museum held a brunch for the artists and the show’s sponsors. After the brunch there was a panel presentation with the show’s curator Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi and 6 of the artists discussing the topic “In Search of Freedom: The Black Presence in the West”.

Each artist discussed their piece in depth and responded to Dr. Mazloomi’s discussion questions about the topic. It was an amazing panel presentation by amazing women. The women in the panel are educators, college professors, a civil rights attorney, historians, and professional artists. Dr. Mazloomi is a retired aerospace engineer and she was not the only PhD level educated artist in the room.

Some of the members of the WCQN have art quilts permanently installed at the Smithsonian Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

I cannot begin to put in to words how it felt to interact with this entire group of talented and brilliant women that are part of WCQN during the Black Pioneers show’s opening weekend. Here is the group photo I shared in the previous post about the show opening:

image credit: James Museum facebook page

How lucky I felt to stand among this group of women! I had so many engaging conversations with the other artists during the show’s opening weekend and there are rumors that in the future we might have WCQN artist retreats and I cannot wait to be in their presence again!

If you’d like to read about how I first got involved with the WCQN, this post tells the story – Creative Inspiration: Stories My Father Told Me (re-post). Thank you Universe for letting me run across that magazine that led me to reaching out to Dr. Mazloomi while browsing at Barnes & Nobles in 2016!

I will close this series of posts with this recent interview of Dr. Mazloomi, a National Heritage Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts (highest award given in the U.S. to an artist), that played on a loop on one of the museum’s walls during the exhibit. I think it is worth a listen.

We as African Americans have participated in the making of this country since we stepped off the boat. African Americans have been explorers, they’ve been business people, they were cowboys, they’ve been part of the fabric of every facet of this country and people will see that the quilts…Quilts have jumped off the bed onto the wall and they are now seen as works of art…these are not the quilts that your grandmother made, they are truly seen as works of art…with the use of cloth we tell the stories not only of our cultures but the making of America…

Carolyn Mazloomi
Shows and Exhibits, WCQN

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I

Last Friday, John and I headed to St. Petersburg Florida for the opening weekend of the show Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West at the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art.

The museum is really gorgeous inside (the Executive Director told us it cost 65 million to build and 5 million a year to maintain…) and filled with some amazing Western themed art, especially a lot of Native American themed art:

When we first arrived to the opening night reception on Friday, our first stop was the museum gift shop to pick up extra copies of the exhibit catalogue (they gave each artist a complimentary copy):

And we plopped ourselves down at the museum’s cafe/bar area with our complimentary adult beverage and thumbed through the catalogue to find my piece!

Yes, I won’t lie, it was pretty exciting!

After getting snacks at the cocktail reception, before we headed upstairs to the exhibit I stopped to pose with the exhibit poster sign:

Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, the show’s curator and the founder of the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) spoke at in the main hall stage at the museum during the reception and had all the artists come up on stage with her after her presentation:

Then it was time to go upstairs and see the exhibit! You’ll never guess what I did first – yes, find my piece on the wall and start taking photos:

Note: The museum placard for my piece is an abbreviated version of my full artist statement. If you’d like to read the entire artist statement, see the post Update on the Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet Quilt.

I also had Dr. Mazloomi sign my exhibit catalogue and took a photo with her:

I am so honored that she responded to my inquiry years ago about WCQN. I am so proud to be a member! So far I’ve been in two other shows: Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium (see post Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium, Part IV), and Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young (see post Secret Quilt Revealed, Part II: Yours for Race and Country).

This is the second show opening I attended, I did not attend the one for Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young as my husband had recently died and although I was so honored to be in the show I was not emotionally ready to attend events like that. I am so happy I got to attend the opening for Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West, and it was awesome to have my partner John there with me (and he acted as my photographer when I was in group shots or busy talking to show visitors.

I am going to close Part I of this series of posts about the show with a less than a minute walk through video of the show on Instagram and a longer version (over 3 minutes) on YouTube that John took. More to come in future posts in this series to include some close up images of several of the amazing quilts in the show!

I accidentally deleted the minute long video I took landscape perspective after I loaded it to Instagram (and I even figured out how to set it to music), so darn it I could not load it on to YouTube!

Shows and Exhibits, WCQN

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West (upcoming exhibit)

In my post from late September 2021, Secret Quilt and Design Wall Struggle, I mentioned that I had completed an art quilt for a Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) show opening in 2022, but I could not yet share images of the quilt.

I was recently contacted by The James Museum who asked for me to sign an image copyright release for my quilt. They said it was to use images of the quilt for promotional purposes. I immediately signed the release but I was not sure what would happen next.

To my ecstatic surprise the museum contacted me a day or so later with the link to their listing of Special Exhibitions > Upcoming shows and my quilt was featured for the upcoming exhibit: Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West!

thejamesmuseum.org/special-exhibitions/

If you scroll down to “Upcoming”…

image credit: The James Museum

You will see the quilt I made plus and overview about the future show!

Image credit: The James Museum

I am sharing this with you as it is on a public facing website. I’ll wait until the show opens next year to share photos of the quilt and my creation of the quilt; as well as my Artist Statement. I don’t want to give anything away from the show’s opening in September 2022 (no longer April 2022, now September).

I can tell you that I was inspired by Langston Hughes’ amazing poem – Let America Be America Again. You can read the entire poem at this website:

poets.org/poem/let-america-be-america-again

This poem was written in the 1930s but to me feels relevant still today.

Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, the show’s curator and head of the WCQN, will likely publish a book about the exhibit like she has done on other amazing WCQN exhibits. Here is her amazon page – Carolyn Mazloomi.

I feel very fortunate to have an art quilt in one of those books – Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium: Quilting the World’s Conscience (2019), and I look forward to having my quilt in the book about this new exhibit (if she publishes a book).


Featured image credit – The James Museum