I received great news today that one of the pieces from my ongoing collaboration with Marion Coleman was juried into Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora at the newly renovated Textile Museum in Washington, DC from April 15-September 4, 2016.
The jurors Rebecca A.T. Stevens and Lee Talbot, chose my work “Fleeing the City”; one of 39 pieces chosen from 292 entries. Beyond the thrill of the venue and the prestigious jurors who understood what I was communicating with this piece, is the joy of this being my afterthought entry. This is not the first time my ‘afterthought’ entry was accepted for an exhibit. It has happened twice before. There is obviously a lesson in that.
I was able to submit three pieces so the first two were Defining Moments 1 about my maternal great-grandparents and their emigration from Russia in 1899 for religious freedom. The second piece I entered was Defining Moments 2 about my paternal grandparents’ predecessors emigrating from Wales and Ireland to farm in the Midwest.
And then I thought that this piece Fleeing the City is about a different kind of migration. A mid-20th century migration of whites ‘fleeing the city’ for the suburbs so their children could go to school with their same kind. The piece was based on a direct quote from my father ten years ago before he was struck with dementia. I had asked him what motivated the move to the East Bay suburbs from San Francisco and his response was ‘so you kids would not have to go to school with colored children.” I was so shocked by his answer that it seemed an important piece for this collaborative series.
The text at the bottom of the piece is comprised of my elementary school photos where all faces were white. The word COLORED is comprised of Marion’s elementary school photos.
This acceptance has renewed my inspiration to continue on making work that says something and makes an impact. Undoubtedly there are some who’d prefer I would just zip it while I find narrative work really meaty, challenging and timeless. I do love making beautiful abstract work but so often anymore I question how many pretty quilts can a girl make?!