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Speakers Bureau: Historic Journey of African American Quilters
August 24, 2017 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pmNo Cost
Diane Williams, storyteller and fiber artist, begins her presentation with a discussion of Kente cloth weaved fibers of West Africa and moves on to utilitarian quilts made by African slaves in America who sewed for their owners. She provides a reflective look at how the designs of Underground Railroad quilts relate to storytelling, and explores the works of Harriet Powers (1837-1910) and three other female fiber artists. Powers was a model for women quilters of the late 19th-early 20th centuries. In her discussion of 20th and 21st century quilting, she uses the work of Faith Ringgold, Carolyn L. Mazloomi and Mississippi quilter/fiber artist Gwen Magee. Williams uses her storytelling skills to explore how images — in pictures, but also in quilts — can guide us to a place of tolerance, empathy and sensitivity.
Diane Williams is a neo-griot, along the lines of the storytellers from times gone by when oral historians were crucial to maintaining black folks’ history because book publishers didn’t believe the history worth chronicling. Williams is also a quilter, an artistry befitting for a woman known for paying homage to the past. Williams uses silk yarns, beads, stones and vibrant colors to make traditional quilts with Motherland inspiration to tell stories of strength, resilience and hope.