Bibliography and Exhibitions
MONOGRAPHS AND SOLO EXHIBITIONS:
GENERAL BOOKS AND GROUP EXHIBITIONS:
ATLANTA (GA). High Museum of Art.
No Two Alike: African-American Improvisational Quilts.
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.
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.