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Civil rights heroines celebrated at DVC through textile showcase

JoAnn+Robison%0AMontgomery+Bus+Boycott+was+led+from+behind+the+scenes+c.+2014
JoAnn Robison
Montgomery Bus Boycott was led from behind the scenes c. 2014

JoAnn Robison Montgomery Bus Boycott was led from behind the scenes c. 2014

Kamal Taj

Kamal Taj

JoAnn Robison Montgomery Bus Boycott was led from behind the scenes c. 2014

Kamal Taj, Staff member

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A recent exhibit at the Diablo Valley College Art Gallery traced the thread of female triumph in the Civil Rights Movement through textiles.

The showcasing, which wrapped on Thursday, April 5, displays 16 quilted swing coats by Patricia A. Montgomery.

The coats were created by combining traditional African American quilting designs, digital images, pastel drawings and thread work.

The use of vivid color palettes, uneven quilting patterns and large design elements are characteristics of West and Central African textile traditions. Designs are meant to represent the historical and cultural events of the quilt makers life.

Montgomery, born in Biloxi, Mississippi, lived in Hempstead, New York until 1979. She earned her Master of Fine Art from John F. Kennedy University and a Bachelor of Fine Art from Holy Names College. She currently resides in Oakland, California.

“I designed a series of story quilts about the lives of African Americans during Colonial times and slavery. The West African fabrics represent African American lineage, while the roaming stitch throughout is the journey we still are traveling in search for a better life and freedom.”

Each story quilt celebrates a particular heroine of the Civil Rights Movement. With coats staggered throughout the room, the viewer could enter the gallery and immerse themselves within a part of history.

The exhibit illustrated contributions made by African American women to the Civil Rights Movement and focused on bringing light to the unsung heroines of the movement and their stories. Like Ella Josephine Baker, who mentored young civil rights leaders throughout the fifties and sixties.

The showing attracted students and staff alike. “Hundreds have come to see it, especially on the day of the artist’s reception,” said Nasreen Seddiqee, curator of the exhibit.

As for this viewer, though the gallery may be modest in size, the exhibit’s vibrancy and message washed all boundaries away. The overhead spot lighting gave each coat its own stage in a way, and rightfully so. One can only hope that DVC may be blessed with more interesting talent.

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Civil rights heroines celebrated at DVC through textile showcase