In honor of Black History Month, City Artworks is displaying quilts, artifacts and paintings to celebrate the history of the African-American.

Some quilts pieced together in the 1970s were made from polyester, a popular fabric during the 1970s. Others were machine quilted, or hand-stitched together. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald
Some quilts pieced together in the 1970s were made from polyester, a popular fabric during the 1970s. Others were machine quilted, or hand-stitched together. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald

An artist reception is slated for 6 p.m. at City Artworks, located at 701 Main Street, to kick off the exhibit. The theme is “African American History: Remembrances.”

This lap quilt is designed in the bearclaw pattern, which gave slaves in the Underground Railroad directions on how to escape. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald
This lap quilt is designed in the bearclaw pattern, which gave slaves in the Underground Railroad directions on how to escape. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald

The exhibit includes quilts and afghans quilted and crocheted by local crafters as well as artifacts and tools used “back in the day.” Barbara Martin says the exhibit is to recreate the “old home place,” and it features quilts in patterns that represented directions through the Underground Railroad showing slaves how to escape.

“We may even see that old butter churn Grandmother used or the saw that Granddad used to cut wood to stay warm on cold nights in winter under that old heavy quilt,” Martin said.
A photo of Mrs. C.L. Hamilton, mother of retired principal Elena Black, is prominently displayed in honor of her work with the quilt show, Martin said.

“We appreciated her and her work,” she said. “She quilted some of these, and she worked with us in our first quilt show.”

Paintings on loan by Southern University Museum of Art in Shreveport will also be on display. Works by Alvin Batiste and Bernard Menyweather, an artist from Shreveport, depict happy times during a difficult place in history as well as the way of life for many.

These paintings are on loan by Bernard Menyweather, an artist in Shreveport. Also on display are cooking pots, utensils and tools used in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald
These paintings are on loan by Bernard Menyweather, an artist in Shreveport. Also on display are cooking pots, utensils and tools used in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald

Quilting was a necessity in the 1800s as they were used as bedcovers to stay warm. Many used remnants or small pieces of cloth to piece together a “patchwork” quilt, but as methods and designs improved, quilts such as the appliqué quilt became popular show quilts.

A particularly popular show quilt style is the medallion quilt, brought to the United States from Europe by colonists. It is a central motif surrounded by multiple borders and offers design possibilities for quilters who use patchwork, appliqué or embroidery techniques.
The exhibit will run through Feb. 29.

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