This exhibition uses the work of one of the most renowned artistic quilt makers, Faith Ringgold, as an entry point to look backward at traditional African American quilts and forward to expressive, decorative quilts, artistic quilts, and the work of painters and mixed media artists who improvise upon the form.
Quilt scholar, Maude Wahlman, has called African American quilts "the visual equivalent of blues, jazz, or gospel, rich with color and symbolism." Many have reflections of African traditions built into them as they combine utilitarian and aesthetic elements. Quilts have long been used in African American life as both functional and symbolic objects, and catalysts for social interaction among women. Traditional quilt making has evolved into artistic expression, hung from walls rather than covering beds, and many fine artists have been inspired by them.