Brackens, Laverne. (b. Fairfield, TX, 1927; active Fairfield, TX, 2012)

Bibliography and Exhibitions



AMHERST (MA). Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts.
Something Else to See: Improvisational Bordering Styles in African American Quilts.
February 1-March 15, 1997.
44 pp. exhib. cat., 44 color and b&w illus., bibliog., biogs., exhib. checklist. Features 36 outstanding quilts. Text by Eli Leon. Artists include: Roy Atkins, Irene Bankhead, Marble Battle, Laverne Brackens, Sherry Byrd, Willia Ette Graham, Georgia Lee Kidd, Rosa "Honey" Pierre, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Gussie Wells, Arbie Williams, et al. 4to (10 x 10 in.), black pictorial wraps. First ed.

ATLANTA (GA). High Museum of Art.
No Two Alike: African-American Improvisational Quilts.
September, 1996-February,1997.
27 pp. exhib. cat., color illus. of quilts with their makers. Text by Eli Leon. Quilts by 21 quiltmakers, from the folk art collection of scholar Eli Leon. The exhibition is divided into four groups: Square Within a Square emphasizes improvisational variations on a widely used quilt pattern; High Contrast, the second section, features mostly black and white quilts based in the African American aesthetic "showing up," i.e. standing out through the use of large patterns, bold colors, and strong contrasts; the third section features quilts by Rosie Lee Tompkins; and the fourth section displays the work of four generations of women in one quilting family: Gladys Henry, her daughter, granddaughter Sherry Byrd and great granddaughter Bara Byrd. Other quiltmakers included: Louisa Fite, Kitty Jones, Minnie Lee Metcalf, Fannie Mae Moore, Maple Swift, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Arbie Williams, et al. Excerpt from Leon's introduction (p.6): Practices such as measuring approximately, using scraps as found, incorporating accidents into the finished work and making frequent exceptions to whatever rules may have been established, are all aspects of a vision in which incidental contingencies, accepted as spontaneous offerings, are skillfully managed to contribute to the beauty and individuality of an artist's work. Accordingly, quiltmaker Laverne Brackens--an eloquent spokeswoman for improvisation--talks of "off-centering the centerpiece," displaying odd selvages, turning printed stripes in different directions, stripping lengthwise and widthwise in the same quilt, enlarging blocks that are too small for the current need with long strips of fabric, and working out the pattern as she goes along, all to effect a "different look," "change it up," or "give that quilt a offset look." [Traveled to: South Carolina State Museum, October, 1998-March, 1999; Vermont Folklife Center, September-November, 1999; Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum, January-March 2000; National Afro-American Museum, April-June, 2001; Santa Rosa Junior College, February-March, 2003; Museum of Art, University of Maine, October 21, 2005-January 14, 2006.] Sq. 4to (10 x 10 in.), wraps.

AUSTIN (TX). Texas Memorial Museum of Science and History..
Storytelling: One Stitch at a Time.
Group exhibition.

CHICAGO (IL). Mayor's Office, City of Chicago.
The Chicago Public Art Guide.
Chicago: Dept. of Public Affairs,.
92 pp., approx. 150 color illus., intro. text by Gregory G. Knight. Contains index of works by region, branch library installations, special projects, map, index of artists with titles of work. Includes color illus. of the following works: Richard Hunt (Freeform, 1993, stainless steel sculpture, State of Illinois Building); Preston Jackson (Irv Kupcinet Memorial, 2006, bronze cast portrait sculpture, Wabash Ave./approach to Irv Kupcinet Bridge.) Works at the Harold Washington Library Center: Houston Conwill and Estella Conwill Majozo (Du Sable's Journey, 1991, terrazzo and inlaid brass floor design); Jacob Lawrence (Events in the Life of Harold Washington, 1991, ceramic tile mural.) Works in the collection of the Harold Washington Library Center: Faith Ringgold (The Winner, 1988, painted quilt); Muneer Bahauddeen (sculpture); John Bankston (painting); William Dawson (sculptures); Robert Dilworth (painting); Richard Hunt (drawing); Preston Jackson (sculpture); Calvin Jones (painting); Bertrand Phillips (painting); David Philpot (sculptures); Arnaldo Roche-Rabell (painting); Tim Rollins + K.O.S. (painting); Alison Saar (sculpture); Lorna Simpson (photographic print); Fan Warren (drawings). At the Legler Branch Library: Elizabeth Catlett (Floating Family, 1996, carved wood); and Kerry James Marshall (Knowledge and Wonder, 1996, mural painting). At the Austin Senior Satellite Center: Brook Collins (Family Mosaics, 2006, 15 photographs) and Melvin King (Follette Park and Selma March, 2006, paintings). At the Rosemont busline station: Martin Puryear (River Road Ring, 1986, wood sculpture). At the 4th District Police Station: Amir Nour (Untitled, 1980, rolled steel semi-spheres). In Bronzeville/along Dr. Martin Luther King Drive: Alison Saar (Monument to the Great Northern Migration, 1994, bronze figure sculpture); art benches by: Willie Cole, Geraldine McCullough; Ed Dwight (Blues Sculptures - Four Musicians, 2005, bronze sculptures, at 47th St./Dr. Martin Luther King Drive). Chicago Police Dept. Headquarters /Michigan Ave.: 4 quilts by Gladys Henry, Laverne Brackens, Sherry Byrd and Sara Byrd - four generations of African American quiltmakers. At Chicago International Airport: Dawoud Bey (Chicago Couples, 2000, photographic print); Richard Hunt (Flight Forms, 2001, stainless steel.) At the Thurgood Marshall Branch Library: Venus Blue (They All Had Something in Common, 1995, quilt). At the Woodson Branch Library: Bernard Williams (sculpture). At the Rogers Park Branch Library: Al Tyler (paintings). At the Uptown Branch Library: Mr. Imagination (installation). At Mabel Manning Branch Library: Dawoud Bey (photographs) and Willie Carter (painting). At Logan Square Branch Library: Arnaldo Roche-Rabell (paintings). At West Chicago Branch Library: Nick Cave (fabric). At Brainerd Branch Library: Preston Jackson (sculpture). At Douglass Branch Library: Emilio Cruz (banners.). At Woodson Branch Library: Richard Hunt (sculpture), Charles Searles (sculpture), and Bernard Williams (sculpture). At Wrightwood-Ashburn Branch Library: Candida Alvarez (stained glass) and Gerald Griffin (collage). At Avalon Branch Library: Stephen Marc (photographs). At Bessie Coleman Branch Library: Laverne Brackens (quilt) and Arbie Williams (quilt.) At Chicago Bee Branch Library: Carrie Mae Weems (painting/mixed media), Derek Webster (sculpture), and Gregg Spears (painting). At Jeffery Manor Branch Library: Marva Lee Pitchford Jolly (ceramic installation). At Kelly Branch Library: Robert Dilworth (painting) and Jacob Lawrence (lithograph). At Pullman Branch Library: Orisegun Olomidun (painting) and Bernard Williams (mural). At South Chicago: Kerry James Marshall (mural). At South Shore Branch Library: Muneer Bahauddeen (sculpture and mosaic) and Laverne Brackens (quilt). West Pullman Branch Library: Marcus Akinlana (mural and mixed media). [See: explorechicago.org] pdf file: www.explorechicago.org/etc/...art.../ENTIRE_PA_WEB.pdf

CLINTON (NY). Kirkland Art Center, Hamilton College.
Quilts of Color: Three Generations of Quilters in an Afro-Texan Family.
October 1-29, 1999.
Multi-artist Texas Folklife exhibition.

SAN DIEGO (CA). William D. Cannon Art Gallery.
Let It Shine: Improvisation in African-American Star Quilts.
Exhib. cat., color photos of quilts with portraits of their makers. Text by Eli Leon. Exhibition of quilts created in the mid- to late-20th century in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and California. [Traveled to: New York State Museum, Albany, 2004; and other venues.]

SAN FRANCISCO (CA). Museum of Craft and Folk Art.
Will the Circle be Unbroken: Four Generations of African-American Quilts.
May 4-July 23, 2006.
Group exhibition. Curated by Eli Leon. Eleven improvisational quilts, made by four generations of a single Texas family, spanning nearly a century in the lives of Gladys Henry, Laverne Brackens, Sherry Byrd, and Bara Byrd. Extensive oral history from each quiltmaker, a photograph and biography of each are included in the exhibition. [Traveled to Brattleboro Museum, Brattleboro, VT, August 11-November 25, 2007.]

YELLOW SPRINGS (OH). Shirley-Jones Gallery.
Approximate Measure, Improvisation in African-American Quilts.
January 19-March 10, 2007.
Group exhibition. Included: Rosie Lee Tompkins, Gladys Henry, Laverne Brackens, Sherry Byrd, Bara Byrd, Willia Ette Graham, Irene Bankhead.