SCRANTON – The Everhart Museum is pleased to present the coincident textile exhibits “Every Stitch Counts: Works from the Social Justice Sewing Academy” and “Bold Independence: African American Quilts from the Collection of David Whaley”, on view until December 27, 2021 .
Every Stitch Counts explores themes of social justice through the eyes of adolescents using textile art as a form of expression. “Bold Independence” highlights the works of famous quilt makers from Alabama and Mississippi. Both exhibitions focus on the works of people living in marginalized communities who use the fabric to express their identity and ideas related to social justice.
“Every Stitch Counts” was developed by the Everhart Museum in collaboration with the Social Justice Sewing Academy, a national youth education program that links artistic expression with activism to advocate for social justice. This program encourages young people to use textile art as a vehicle for personal transformation, community cohesion and social change. The works included in this exhibition, created by individual artists or collectives, highlight the social justice issues that have affected artists, their families and their communities. The powerful images create unique narratives addressing issues such as racism, gun violence, education, immigration and poverty. This exhibition is sponsored by PNC Bank.
“The created works represent the powerful voices present in the ‘craftivism’ movement. Craftsmanship is taken from notions of play and frivolity to a medium that has punch to denounce injustice. The Social Justice Sewing Academy offers teens an incredible tool to channel their experiences into a form that educates them about serious issues, ”said Kathy Johnson Bowles, Executive Director of the Everhart Museum.
“Bold Independence” features quilts made during the second half of the 20th century by 11 African-American women from Mississippi and Alabama. A number of works are made by the famous quilters of Gee’s Bend and the majority were produced in the black belt region of central Alabama. Curated by Bowles and formed by selections from the David Whaley Collection, this exhibit shines a light on the artistic traditions found in the making of African-American quilts.
While living in great poverty and oppression as daughters and granddaughters of slaves, the artists in the exhibition produced extraordinary works that were celebrated and narrated by acclaimed scholars and exhibited in prestigious institutions across the country. The quilts capture the seven traits that distinguish traditional African American quilts: vertical stripes, bright colors, large patterns, asymmetry, improvisation, multiple patterns and symbolic shapes.
“The importance of these quilts is not based on the number of stitches or the quality of the quilt, as is the case with some quilts. It’s really about the power of their design, ”said Whaley.